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Daily News 

24  / 01 / 2017

 

2017 EU Citizenship Report: Commission promotes rights, values and democracy

Today, the European Commission publishes its third EU Citizenship Report taking stock of progress since 2014 and further presenting actions to ensure citizens can fully enjoy their rights when working, travelling, studying or participating in elections. Europeans are more than ever aware of their status as citizens of the Union and the proportion of Europeans wanting to know more about their rights continues to increase. Over four out of five Europeans cherish, in particular, the right to free movement that allows them to live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU (December 2016 Eurobarometer). However, a lack of awareness means EU citizens do not fully exercise their right to vote in European and local elections and many are unaware of the right to consular protection, for instance. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, responsible for EU citizenship rights, said: “87% of Europeans are aware of their EU citizenship, which is more than ever before, but they are not always aware of the rights that come with EU citizenship. (…) We want to empower citizens to know more about their EU rights and use them more easily.” Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship: "The European Union exists for the European citizens and through them. To ensure that EU citizens can fully enjoy their rights and freedoms in times of increasing globalisation and transnational challenges, we are committed to continuing our work on strengthening security within the EU and by stepping up the protection of our common external borders." The 2017 EU Citizenship Report sets out the Commission's priorities in further raising awareness of these rights and making them easier to use in practice. It will for instance organise an EU-wide information campaign on EU citizenship rights, strengthen voluntary engagement through the European Solidarity Corps or intensify Citizens 'dialogues. Full press release, report and factsheet on the main measures taken in the field of EU citizenship since 2014. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

 

Commission defends national rules on employee participation rights before the Court of Justice of the EU

This morning, an oral hearing took place at the Court of Justice of the European Union following a preliminary reference by a German court (Case C-566/15, Erzberger v. Tui). The case concerned a particular aspect of the German rules on employee participation in the supervisory bodies of companies (so-called “Mitbestimmung”). The Commission stated this morning in Court: "Employee participation is an important public policy objective and any possible restriction on the free movement of workers resulting from such rules can be justified by the need to safeguard systems of employee participation and their social objective. As a result, the Commission considers that the German rules as they stand can be considered compatible with EU law." The Commission therefore defended the right of Member States to guarantee employee participation rights as foreseen in the German legislation in question; the model of “Mitbestimmung” and its social objectives are thus in line with EU law. The full statement is available here in EN, DE and FR. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

 

La Commission propose une aide du Fonds de solidarité de l'UE à Chypre et au Portugal

Aujourd'hui, la Commission a proposé d'allouer plus de 11 millions d'euros du Fonds de solidarité de l'UE (FSUE) à Chypre et au Portugal. En 2016, Chypre a subi de graves sécheresses qui ont provoqué des incendies de forêt et une pénurie d'eau pour la population. Chypre devrait recevoir près de 7,3 millions d'euros du FSUE pour alléger le fardeau financier lié aux dégâts. L'île portugaise de Madère a été touchée par des incendies de forêt en août 2016. Près de 4 millions d'euros du FSUE permettront de couvrir les coûts des mesures d'urgence, des opérations de nettoyage et de restauration des infrastructures publiques essentielles. Corina Creţu, commissaire chargée de la politique régionale, a déclaré: «Nos pensées continuent d'accompagner les habitants de Chypre et de Madère; ces tragédies sont une nouvelle preuve de l'importance de la solidarité au sein de l'Union en ces périodes difficiles. Nous joignons aujourd'hui le geste à la parole en accordant une aide financière aux communautés pour contribuer à relancer l'activité économique et soutenir les efforts de reconstruction.» Le paquet d'assistance financière attend maintenant l'approbation du Parlement européen et du Conseil. En novembre 2016, Chypre et le Portugal avaient reçu des paiements anticipés d'une valeur de 730 000 euros et 392 500 euros, respectivement. Un communiqué est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz - Tél.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

€220 million of investments to reach Finnish small businesses under the SME initiative

The Commission welcomes the signature of the first three agreements under the Finnish SME Initiative (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises - SMEs) between the European Investment Bank Group and financial intermediaries– Ålandsbanken, OP Corporate Bank and Oma Savings Bank. With a contribution of €20 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Finnish SME initiative boosts the competitiveness of small businesses through better access to finance. These agreements are expected to generate €220 million of investments for local SMEs – already more than half the programme's €400 million target, four months after its launch. Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: "In line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe, we are encouraging Member States to increase their use of financial instruments when investing Cohesion Policy funds, for the direct benefit of the real economy. The SME initiative in Finland is a real success, enabling Finnish SMEs to innovate and expand their activities. I hope it inspires other countries."Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu added:  "I am glad to see that the programme delivers so fast! SMEs are the engines of growth and job creation in Finland and the SME initiative gives them better access to the funding they need. More Member States should join the SME initiative and start using Cohesion Policy funds in new and creative ways." A press release is available on the European Investment Fund's website. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

 

Politique de Cohésion: un nouveau "Fonds de Fonds" investit dans les PME tchèques pour accélérer la croissance

La Commission salue le lancement aujourd'hui en République Tchèque d'un "Fonds de Fonds", avec une contribution de 40 millions d'euros du Fonds européen de développement régional (FEDER) et des ressources du Fonds Européen d'Investissement (FEI). Le nouveau fonds investira à son tour dans des PME locales ayant un fort potentiel de croissance. Au total, grâce à la participation d'investisseurs privés, c'est près de 100 millions d'euros qui devraient atteindre les PME tchèques. "Les instruments financiers ont le potentiel de multiplier l'impact de chaque euro investi par l'UE sur le terrain. Ce nouveau Fonds de Fonds soutenu par la politique de Cohésion facilitera l'accès au financement pour les entrepreneurs tchèques et les aidera à transformer leurs idées en projets concrets à forte valeur ajoutée. Cela profitera directement à l'économie réelle du pays," a déclaré la Commissaire à la politique régionale Corina Crețu. Un communiqué est disponible sur le site du Fonds européen d'investissement. Plus d'informations sur les Fonds structurels et d'investissement européens en République Tchèque sont disponibles ici et sur la plateforme Open Data. (Pour plus d'informations: Jakub Adamowicz - Tél.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Antitrust: Commission seeks feedback on commitments offered by Amazon in e-book investigation

The European Commission is inviting comments on commitments offered by Amazon to address competition concerns relating to parity clauses in contracts with publishers. The Commission has concerns relating to certain parity clauses contained in contracts between Amazon and publishers. These clauses, sometimes referred to as "most-favoured-nation" or "MFN" clauses, require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon's competitors and/or offer Amazon similar terms and conditions than to its competitors. The Commission considers that Amazon's behaviour may violate EU antitrust rules that prohibit abuses of a dominant market position and restrictive business practices. To address the Commission's concerns, Amazon offered a set of commitments. Interested parties can submit comments within one month from the date of publication. If the market test indicates that the commitments are suitable to remedy the concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision making the commitments legally binding on Amazon. The full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526).

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of sole control over EPH by EP Investment and EP Investment II

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of sole control over EPH of the Czech Republic, by EP Investment and EP Investment II, both of Luxembourg. EPH is a utility company with several activities including lignite mining, electricity and heat production, distribution and supply as well as gas transmission, distribution, storage and supply. EP Investment and EP Investment II are owned and controlled by Daniel Křetínský, and their only activity is to hold the shares of EPH. Daniel Křetínský currently has joint control over EPH through EP Investment and will acquire sole control as a result of the transaction. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because any overlap between the companies' activities is pre-existing and is not created by the transaction. The operation 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.8307. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Hitachi Chemical Company and FIAMM

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over FIAMM's lead acid battery business by Hitachi Chemical Company of Japan and FIAMM of Italy. Hitachi Chemical Company manufactures and trades, among others, electronics materials, inorganic materials, polymers, automotive products and energy storage devices. FIAMM manufactures and trades automotive components, including batteries. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns because the overlap between the companies' activities is very limited. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8271. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Fitzroy by AMCI and Riverstone

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of joint control over Fitzroy QLD Resources Limited of the United Kingdom by AMCI worldwide holdings and Riverstone Investment Group LLC, both of the United States. Fitzroy is a producer of coking coal for seaborne export worldwide. All of Fitzroy's operations and assets are located in Australia. AMCI is a natural resources company, with operations across the value chain of energy and metal commodities with investments in coals and minerals, metals, and shipping. Riverstone is a private equity firm focused on investments in the energy and power sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of Fitzroy's limited activities in the European Economic Area. The operation 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.8340. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

EUROSTAT: Le nombre de nuitées touristiques dans l'UE en légère hausse en 2016 malgré des baisses substantielles en France et au Royaume-Uni

En 2016, le nombre de nuitées passées dans des établissements d'hébergement touristique dans l'Union européenne (UE) devrait culminer à plus de 2,8 milliards, en hausse de 2,0% par rapport à 2015. Depuis 2009, une augmentation constante du nombre de nuitées en établissement d'hébergement touristique a été enregistrée dans l'UE, alimentée notamment par la hausse du nombre de nuitées des non-résidents de l'État membre. En 2016, l'Espagne (454 millions de nuitées, +7,8% par rapport à 2015) a accentué son avance, devant la France (395 millions, -4,6%) ainsi que l'Italie (395 millions, +0,5%), l'Allemagne (390 millions, +2,8%) et le Royaume-Uni (292 millions, -4,5%). Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

STATEMENTS

 

Discours du Commissaire King au 9ème Forum International de la Cybersécurité - Une réponse globale et collective aux menaces de cybersécurité

Le Commissaire en charge de l'union de la sécurité, Julian King, est aujourd'hui intervenu au 9émè Forum International de la Cybersecurité: "Avec le développement de l'économie numérique, Internet est désormais à la base du modèle économique de multiples secteurs et devient également incontournable dans nos vies privées. Pour ne citer qu'un chiffre: le nombre d'utilisateurs d'Internet a triplé à travers le monde en 10 ans. (…) Les Etats Membres sont en première ligne pour lutter contre les cyber-menaces mais la Commission européenne soutiendra tous les efforts pour accroitre notre résilience collective. La cyber-sécurité est au centre de nos priorités politiques. Depuis l'adoption de la stratégie européenne de cybersécurité en 2013, nous avons multiplié nos efforts afin de mieux protéger nos citoyens et nos entreprises en ligne. (…) Le monde interconnecté dans lequel nous vivons aujourd'hui offre de multiples opportunités. Toutefois, il présente également des risques accrus en termes de menaces pour notre sécurité collective, sans parler des impacts économiques et financiers. C'est pourquoi nous devons tous, Institutions européennes, Etats membres, entreprises, et citoyens, mettre en œuvre à notre niveau les mesures nécessaires permettant de renforcer notre résilience aux attaques cyber et notre lutte contre la cybercriminalité. Ainsi, chacun d'entre nous, par la simple mise à jour régulière de la protection de ses réseaux contre les logiciels malveillants, joue un rôle dans le renforcement de notre résilience". Le discours prononcé est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Announcements

 

Twelve outstanding female entrepreneurs shortlisted forEU Prize for Women Innovators 2017

Today at 16:15 CET, the European Commission will announce the finalists of the Horizon 2020-funded EU Prize for Woman Innovators 2017. The shortlist contains twelve outstanding women entrepreneurs who have brought their breakthrough ideas to the market. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "The twelve finalists are all talented innovators with interesting stories to tell about breaking through barriers, taking risks and succeeding. Their stories can inspire other women and men to become innovators. In this new edition of the contest, we also want to encourage the next generation and give special recognition to the achievements of young, innovative entrepreneurs." For the first time, this year's contest includes three finalists in a new category, the Rising Innovator, to recognise excellence in female entrepreneurs aged 30 years or under. All of the finalists have founded or co-founded a successful company based on their innovative ideas. The finalists are selected by a high-level jury consisting of independent experts from business, venture capital, entrepreneurship and academia.On 8 March 2017, International Women's Day, three cash prizes of €100,000, €50,000 and €30,000 will be awarded in the main Women Innovators category and one prize of  €20,000 to the first ever winner of the Rising Innovator Award.More information is available online later this afternoon. (For more information: Lucía Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

Commissioner Navracsics visits Berlin to mark 30 years of Erasmus

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, is in Berlin today to give a keynote speech at an event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme. This festive event, organised by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), will kick off the anniversary campaign for Erasmus, the EU's programme for education, training, youth and sport, in Germany. Since the start of the programme, more than 1.3 million participants from Germany have benefitted from the scheme. During his visit, Commissioner Navracsics will also visit an Erasmus+-funded project called “Motivation through Mobility” where trainee social assistants from disadvantaged backgrounds benefitted from a 30 day work placement abroad. He will have a discussion with some of the young people and hand out Europass certificates to trainees who have just returned from their stay abroad in Finland and/or Iceland. Europass is a single European framework which helps learners, job-seekers, employees and employers, as well as education and training institutions to assess and compare skills and qualifications and hence support mobility in Europe. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

 

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