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Daily News

18 / 01 / 2017

 

 

Investment Plan for Europe: Agreements unlock over EUR 1 billion in loans for SMEs

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has signed agreements in France and Austria that will unlock over EUR 1 billion worth of loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across nine countries. These transactions benefit from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. In Vienna, the EIF signed an EFSI-backed InnovFin SME guarantee agreement with UniCredit which will allow the bank to offer additional financing worth EUR 160 million to innovative SMEs in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. In Paris, the EIF signed an agreement with Banque Populaire and the Federation Nationale des SOCAMA which will allow SOCAMA to support additional loans worth EUR 1 billion to an estimated 33,000 French SMEs over the next two years. Commenting on the agreement in France, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "This latest agreement made possible by the Investment Plan for Europe will unlock a billion euro in loans for tens of thousands of SMEs in France. Facilitating access to the finance that smaller businesses need to innovate and expand is a key component of the Commission's efforts to boost investment, employment and growth throughout Europe." Full press releases are available here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

Croatia to be gradually integrated into the Schengen Information System (SIS)

Today, the Commission is proposing to the Council to gradually integrate Croatia into the Schengen Information System (SIS), the most widely used information sharing system for border management and security in Europe. This is another important step in enhancing effective information exchange between Member States and increasing the security of European citizens. It will allow for closer cooperation between Croatia and both the other EU Member States as well as the Schengen Associated Countries in finding persons who are sought in relation to criminal activities, missing persons and certain objects such as stolen vehicles and documents. Based on the Schengen evaluation process, Croatia has met the technical and legal requirements to begin a phasing in process. At this stage, Croatia will be able to operate SIS only for the purpose of law enforcement cooperation. (For more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 299 63444)

 

Debt recovery made faster, cheaper and more efficient

Today, new rules enter into force supporting businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to recover debt from debtors in other EU countries. About 600 million Euros are lost every year due to long and costly legal procedures preventing companies to recover money they are owed outside their home country. The proposed European Account Preservation Order (EAPO) can help companies by offering them a simple and cost-effective way to block funds that are owed. Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Věra Jourová stated: "As a former entrepreneur, I know that unpaid bills can seriously affect the bottom line of a company. Particularly small businesses often cannot afford the legal support necessary to bring back the money they are owed. Thanks to the European Account Preservation Order, businesses and citizens will be able to recover millions in cross-border debts by requesting that the amount owed to them is blocked on the debtor's bank accounts". Currently a business that is owed money from a business partner in another EU country has to request the blocking of the amount by a court in the business partner's Member State according to the local rules and procedures. This implies substantial and cost-intensive legal support, often too expensive particularly for SMEs. The new procedure will be quicker, cheaper and more efficient for creditors. Courts will have a maximum of 10 days to issue an EAPO and debtors will not be informed in advance of the preservation order. This guarantees that assets are not moved around or squandered and remain available for reimbursement. The EAPO issued in one Member State will be recognised in all other Member States and standard forms will be available, keeping legal and translation costs low. An overview on how the EAPO works is available in a factsheet. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

EU Auditors' say EU disaster response is "timely" and "effective"

The European Court of Auditors will today publish their Special Report on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. They judge the EU's civil protection response to be "well-coordinated" and find that the Commission’s management, through its 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre, had been "effective". They looked in particular at three recent disasters for which the Mechanism had been activated: the 2014 floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, and the Nepal earthquake in 2015. Activations had been timely; the Commission had respected the United Nations’ overall lead, and taken steps to ensure a smooth transition to the recovery phase.  This report presents an opportunity to show EU citizens that the EU can help when disasters strike and that Europe is strongest when it combines its capacities and expertise. The Commission had accepted all the Court's recommendations for further improvements, most of which were already underway. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

EU and US publish TTIP state of play assessment

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman have published a joint assessment of the progress made in the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) since negotiations started in July 2013. The joint EU-US report outlines both the common ground reached as well as the areas where more work is needed. Commissioner Malmström said: "As discussed with Member States at the last Trade Council in November, this assessment aims to outline and summarize where things stand in the EU-US trade talks, building on our established policy of increased transparency in these negotiations. The EU has left no stone unturned in trying to achieve a balanced, ambitious and high-standard TTIP agreement with clear benefits for citizens, local communities and companies. We have made considerable, tangible progress, as this summary demonstrates. I look forward to engaging with the incoming US administration on the future of transatlantic trade relations." A press release is available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Axel Fougner - Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

EU agri-food exports remain at record level as shown by latest figures from November 2016

The monthly value of EU agri-food exports in November 2016 reached a new record level of €11.7 billion, which is € 813 million higher than in November 2015. Considering a slight decrease in agri-food imports from third countries, the EU now has a trade surplus in agri-food products at €19 billion over 12 months. Major gains in values over the 12-months period from December 2015 to November 2016 were achieved in agri-food exports to the USA (€ + 1.5 billion; +8%) and China (€ +1.1 billion; +11%). The pig meat sector is also confirming its recovery after testing times last year. Indeed, the highest increase in export value over the last 12 months was recorded for pork: €+1.3 billion which represents +34% compared to export values in the 12-months period one year ago. This month's report focuses on EU agri-food trade with Ecuador at the occasion of the provisional entry into force of the Protocol of Accession of Ecuador to the EU Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru in January 2017. The EU is the third largest trading partner for the Andean countries. The full report is online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Clémence Robin – Tel: +32 229 52509)

 

Eurostat: La production dans le secteur de la construction en hausse de 0,4% dans la zone euro et dans l'UE28

En novembre 2016 par rapport à octobre 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction, corrigée des variations saisonnières, a augmenté de 0,4% tant dans la zone euro (ZE19) que dans l’UE28, selon les premières estimations d’Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En octobre 2016, la production dans le secteur de la construction avait progressé de 0,4% dans la zone euro et de 0,3% dans l'UE28. En novembre 2016 par rapport à novembre 2015, la production dans le secteur de la construction est restée stable dans la zone euro et a augmenté 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: Décembre 2016 - Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro en hausse à 1,1%

Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro s’est établi à 1,1% en décembre 2016, contre 0,6% en novembre. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,2%. Le taux d’inflation annuel de l’Union européenne s’est établi à 1,2% en décembre 2016, contre 0,6% en novembre. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,2%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l'Union européenne. En décembre 2016, des taux annuels négatifs ont été observés à Bulgarie (-0,5%), en Irlande (-0.2) et en Roumanie (-0,1%). Les taux annuels les plus élevés ont été enregistrés en Estonie (2,4%), en Belgique (2,2%), en République Tchèque ainsi qu'en Lettonie (2,1% chacune). Par rapport à novembre 2016, l’inflation annuelle a baissé dans un État membre, est restée stable dans un autre et a augmenté dans vingt-six. Les plus forts impacts à la hausse sur le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro proviennent des carburants pour le transport (+0,21 point de pourcentage), des légumes (+0,07 pp), et des combustibles liquides (+0,05 pp), tandis que le gaz (-0,10 pp), les télécommunications (-0,05 pp) et les produits pour les soins personnels (-0,04 pp) ont eu les plus forts impacts à la baisse. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations:Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Commissioner Avramopoulos in Lesvos, Greece

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos was in Lesvos, Greece today to discuss urgent measures to address the humanitarian situation in the islands. This morning, Commissioner Avramopoulos visited the refugee centres in Moria and Kara Tepe together with the Greek Minister for Migration Ioannis Mouzalas, the mayors of the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios; respectively Spyros Galinos, Michalis Angelopoulos and Manolis Vournous and the EU coordinator for the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement Maarten Verwey. In a statement issued during his visit, Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "I am in Lesvos today to pass a very important message: that we all, Greeks, Europeans, have a humanitarian imperative to alleviate the situation here on the islands, for the migrants as well as for the inhabitants of these islands. Greece has already shown its humanity in dealing with the refugee crisis, a crisis that no EU Member State is able or should be left to cope with alone. We cannot give up now. The European humanitarian tradition must be maintained. So it simply cannot be that refugees are left out in the cold, to brave the worst of winter without a roof over their heads. Solutions must be found today, not tomorrow, not next week, but now. The European Union will continue to stand by Greece's side in providing those solutions, just as we have been doing till now." The full statement is available in English here and in Greek here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissioner Arias Cañete in Greece to deepen energy integration

On 19 January, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete kicks off a two-day visit to Greece. The purpose of the visit is to follow-up on the Clean Energy for All Europeans package presented by the Commission last November and to discuss issues regarding investment on the potential for renewable energy and on energy efficient buildings. There is immense untapped potential in Greece for investment in wind and solar energy to increase the mix of renewable sources in the energy mix. There are also opportunities to improve energy efficiency across different sectors and in particular in the housing renovation. On Thursday, Commissioner Arias Cañete will meet with President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Minister of Environment and Energy Georgios Stathakis. Following these meetings, Commissioner Arias Cañete and Minister Stathakis will hold a joint press conference at 12:15 local time. Commissioner Arias Cañete will also meet stakeholders of the energy sector and exchange views on the Clean Energy for All Europeans proposals. On Friday, Commissioner Arias Cañete will address the Hellenic Parliament´s Special Standing Committee on European Affairs, the Standing Committee on Production and Trade and the Special Permanent Committee on Environmental Protection. The joint press conference with Minister Stathakis takes place in the European Parliament Information Office in Athens. Accreditation to the EU’s Representation press officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen - Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

Commissioners Andriukatis and Hogan attend the International Green Week in Berlin

Commissioners Vytenis Andriukaitis and Phil Hogan, respectively in charge of food and health safety and of agriculture, will both be attending the International Green Week in Berlin which gathers over 1,500 exhibitors from the food, agriculture and gardening sectors. While in Berlin, Commissioner Andriukaitis will hold the 127th Citizens' Dialogue, with the students from Freie Universität Berlin at the "Erlebnis Europa" exhibition. Citizens and media can attend the debate in person and questions can be submitted using the Twitter hashtag #EUdialogues. The event will be livestreamed here. On his side, Commissioner Hogan, who will be in Berlin from 17 to 22 January, will participate in a high level panel discussion with German Minister for Agriculture, Christian Schmidt at the follow-up event to the Cork 2.0 Conference of 2016, where a coalition of rural stakeholders launched a 10 point plan for the future of rural development. He will also join the Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference on 21 January and the G20 Agricultural Ministers Meeting on 22 January. More information about Commissioner Hogan's programme are online. The public calendars of Commissioners Andriukaitis and Hogan also outline all their meetings throughout their official visit to Germany. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel: +32 229 56 172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commission kick-starts review of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA)

The European Commission is launching today a public consultation (open until 12 April 2017) to seek views on the performance of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and on the revision of the 2013 Regulation setting out its current mandate and tasks. Since its creation in 2004, ENISA has helped the European Institutions, Member States and the business community to respond to and prevent network and information security problems. Although the EU has made major progress since the 2013 cybersecurity strategy, most recently with the adoption of the first EU-wide cybersecurity legislation (the NIS Directive) and the launch of a €1.8 billion EU cybersecurity public-private partnership, cybersecurity capabilities are still uneven across the Member States and the EU as a whole remains vulnerable to cross-border and cross-sector cyber threats (see more in the factsheet). Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for Digital Single Market, said: "Network security is essential for the functioning of the Digital Single Market in Europe. Last year's achievements in cybersecurity are all important steps forward, but there is more work to do. The ENISA review will help us address better the main security concerns of the digital community in a time when global cyber-attacks are increasing in volume, and becoming more sophisticated. Cooperation is key for successful responses to these new security challenges. As part of the wider review of the Digital Single Market strategy, we are now looking at further actions to strengthen cybersecurity in the EU." (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Inga Höglund - Tel.: +32 229 50698)

 

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