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Daily News 

17 / 02 / 2017

 

President Juncker speech at the Münchner Europa Konferenz

Yesterday President Juncker delivered a speech at the Münchner Europa Konferenz where he notably called for a greater pooling of European defence capacities, noting that "We invest 80% of our defence expenditure at a national level, instead of investing it at a European level." President Juncker also spoke about growing trade opportunities for the European Union and pointed out that Europe is too seldom proud of what it has achieved, saying: "European unity is the great luck of our continent and those who talk badly about Europe are doing an injustice to a great idea that often finds more appreciation, approval and admiration outside Europe than within." The full speech in German is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

EU invests €444 million in key energy infrastructure

Today EU Member States agreed on the Commission's proposal to invest €444 million in priority European energy infrastructure projects. The 18 selected electricity, smart grids and gas projects will contribute to achieving the Energy Union's goals by connecting European energy networks, increasing security of energy supply, and contributing to the sustainable development by integrating renewable energy sources across the EU. Investing in sustainable and renewable energy sources helps accelerate the energy transformation in Europe and foster green growth and jobs – all priorities of the Juncker Commission. Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "I welcome today's agreement by the Member States. These are important projects with major cross-border implications. They are a tangible sign of what the Energy Union means for Europe and how the European Union can help making our countries stronger by cooperating closely together." Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "This is another milestone in the setup of a cleaner, more competitive European energy market. An energy infrastructure which is fit for purpose is essential for renewables to thrive. Thanks to this upgrade, the proposals in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package are even closer to become a reality. The EU is demonstrating its commitment to delivering cheaper, more sustainable and secure energy to European consumers". The money for the chosen projects comes from the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU's funding support programme for infrastructure. More information is available in a press release in EN, DE, FR. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Alexis Perier - Tel.: +32 229 69143)

 

The Commission decided that Lithuania's suspension of Russian language TV channel is compatible with EU law

Today the European Commission decided that a decision by the Lithuanian audiovisual regulator to suspend, for three months, the retransmission of the Russian language channel "RTR Planeta", which is broadcast from Sweden, is compatible with EU law. The Commission assessed the measures taken by Lithuania on the basis of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which allows the suspension of the principle of freedom of reception of audiovisual media services in Europe on the grounds of hate speech. Lithuania has demonstrated that there have been manifest, serious and grave infringements of the prohibition of incitement to hatred in programmes broadcast by "RTR Planeta". Statements made during these programmes have contained threats of occupation or military destruction of several states, including the Baltic countries. The Commission assessed the measures taken and decided that the temporary suspension of the broadcast by Lithuania is proportionate and justified. To ensure a better protection against hate speech, the Commission proposal for the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive of 25 May 2016 widens the definition of hate speech by referring to "incitement to violence or hatred" and including ethnic origin, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The proposal also foresees a requirement for video-sharing platforms (e.g. YouTube) to protect citizens from incitement to violence or hatred. More details can be found here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt - Tel.: +32 229 67083; Johannes Bahrke - Tel.: +32 229 58615)

 

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Portuguese guarantee scheme

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of a guarantee scheme for credit institutions in Portugal until 30 June 2017. The scheme was initially approved in October 2008 and prolonged several times, the last time in July 2016. The Commission found the extension of the measure to be in line with its 2013 Banking Communication, according to which the Commission can authorise schemes providing for liquidity measures for banks, which do not have a capital shortfall. The Commission approved the prolongation of the scheme because the measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. In line with the 2013 Banking Communication, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks' liabilities for periods of six months. Each prolongation is based on a review of the developments in financial markets and the scheme's effectiveness. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the reference SA.47168. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Portuguese Guarantee Scheme on European Investment Bank lending

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a prolongation of a Portuguese guarantee scheme on European Investment Bank (EIB) lending until 30 June 2017. The scheme covers State guarantees to banks that guarantee EIB loans granted to companies in Portugal. It was initially approved on 27 June 2013 and prolonged several times, last in July 2016. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme to be in line with its 2013 Banking Communication, because it is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The prolonged scheme will allow the continuation of funding provided by the EIB to the real economy and prevent the disruption of the credit granted by the EIB through the banks participating in the scheme. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.47164. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Eurostat: Décembre 2016 comparé à novembre 2016 – La production dans le secteur de la construction en baisse de 0,2% dans la zone euro - en hausse de 0,6% dans l'UE28

En décembre 2016 par rapport à novembre 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction, corrigée des variations saisonnières, a diminué de 0,2% dans la zone euro (ZE19), tandis qu'elle a augmenté de 0,6% dans l'UE28, selon les premières estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En novembre 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction avait progressé de 0,9% dans la zone euro et de 0,7% 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: Première estimation pour décembre 2016 – excédent de 17,8 milliards d'euros des échanges courants de l'UE28 – excédent de 11,2 milliards d'euros pour la balance des services

Le compte des opérations courantes de la balance des paiements de l'UE28, corrigé des variations saisonnières, a enregistré un excédent de 17,8 milliards d'euros en décembre 2016, contre des excédents de 16,2 milliards en novembre 2016 et de 11,4 milliards en décembre 2015, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

 

STATEMENTS

 

Statement by Commissioner Stylianides on the humanitarian situation in Western Mosul and other conflict areas in Iraq

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides has issued a statement calling for the protection of civilians ahead of the upcoming military offensive on western Mosul in Iraq. "The military operations in Mosul have so far been conducted with due attention to the protection of civilians. This is despite the challenges of fighting ISIL in densely populated areas. We commend Iraqi authorities and military forces for having put protection of civilians at the core of their military strategy. As the offensive on western Mosul is to start soon, we call for the continued commitment to do everything possible to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians and to help them to access safe areas, including establishing safe evacuation routes. We also renew our call for humanitarian access, for the urgent delivery of principled, lifesaving aid to civilians in all active conflict areas and for facilitating medical evacuation of the wounded and sick and for the provision of emergency medical services. (…) The European Union is a leading donor in the international response to the Iraq crisis with €159 million in humanitarian support in 2016 and 266 tons of in-kind assistance (shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as health aid), recently delivered through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (…)." Read the full statement here. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioners attend the annual Munich Security Conference

From today 17 February – Sunday 19 February, several members of the College will be in Munich, Germany to participate in the Security Conference (MSC) – an annual forum, bringing together decision makers from all over the world, to discuss security policy. The Commissioners will be participating in round table and panel discussions with the high-level participants, as well as delivering speeches, which will be published on our website. Video and photo coverage will be available on EbS; for more information about the conference itself, see here, and for the full list of participants, see here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570)

 

First Vice-President Timmermans to visit Dublin

On Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 February, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will be in Dublin. He will begin his programme with a Citizens Dialogue at University College Dublin Law Society, which you can follow via Facebook live hochotbaere from 18.30 on Monday (local time). Registration for the event is possible here. On Tuesday, the First Vice-President will hold bilateral meetings with Mr Enda Kenny, Taoiseach and with Mrs Frances Fitzgerald, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice. First Vice-President Timmermans will also participate in a Joint meeting of the EU Affairs Committee and Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence Committee of the Dáil Éireann, which will be live streamed here on Tuesday at 12.30 (local time). (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

 

Les Commissaires Bieńkowska et Jourová participent au Conseil Compétitivité  

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissaire au Marché intérieur, à l'Industrie, à l'Entrepreneuriat et aux Petites et moyennes entreprises, et Věra Jourová, Commissaire à la justice, aux consommateurs et à l'égalité des genres, participeront à la réunion du Conseil Compétitivité lundi 20 février à Bruxelles. Le Conseil devrait se prononcer en faveur d'une orientation générale sur la révision du règlement relatif à la coopération en matière de protection des consommateurs. Ce nouveau règlement permettra d'améliorer la coopération entre les autorités nationales et renforcera le rôle de la Commission, afin de mieux protéger les européens en cas de violation transfrontalière des lois de protection des consommateurs, notamment pour répondre aux risques présentés par le monde numérique. La Commissaire Bieńkowska participera à la session, durant laquelle la Présidence maltaise présentera l'ensemble des progrès réalisés sur les propositions de règlement sur l'homologation des voitures présentée par la Commission en janvier 2016, ainsi que des discussions sur la compétitivité de l'industrie européenne en vue du Jour européen de l'industrie. La conférence de presse aura lieu vers 18h20 et sera retransmise en direct. (Pour plus d'infomations: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253)

 

Calendar

The Commissioners' weekly activities

 

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