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Daily News

25 / 01 / 2017

 

Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion

Ahead of the meeting of Heads of State and Government in Malta on 3 February 2017, the Commission and the High Representative have today set out their contribution to the discussion on how to better manage migration and save lives along the Central Mediterranean route. The Commission and the High Representative are presenting a number of additional measures to strengthen the EU's work along this route, in particular with and around Libya. These actions are focused on fighting human smuggling and trafficking networks, helping to manage migratory flows more effectively, continuing to save lives at sea and improving the living conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and neighbouring countries. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Too many people are still dying in the Mediterranean. We have implemented actions to address the situation but we need to do more. Today we are presenting possible short and medium term actions to address the flows to and from North Africa. First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required. While continuing our support to this process, we can take forward actions to help make a difference, save lives and break the smugglers' and traffickers' business model – which will also impact the flows towards Europe." A press release and a Q&A are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 69218; Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570)

 

Commission outlines conditions for ending Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania

The Commission issued today its latest reports in the context of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) applied to Bulgaria and Romania. After 10 years of the CVM, the Commission took stock of steps taken on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and in the case of Bulgaria on organised crime. On Bulgaria, First Vice-President Timmermans said, "In the past ten years Bulgaria has made important progress in carrying out CVM reforms, in particular as concerns legislative and institutional developments in judicial matters. With the additional significant progress made last year, the momentum built up so far allows the focus to shift to the key remaining steps which need to be taken to reach the CVM objectives and therefore to complete this important process on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime under this Commission mandate, in line with the goal set by President Juncker. The speed of this depends on how quickly the Bulgarian authorities are able to take the identified remaining steps in an irreversible way, in a way that does not call into question the progress made so far." On Romania, First Vice-President Timmermans said, "Over the past 10 years as a member of the EU and carrying out the CVM reforms Romania has made major progress. The positive trend of Romania and Romanians to fight corruption and to protect the independence of the judiciary noted in the previous three years has continued in the last year too. The momentum built up so far allows the focus to shift to the key remaining steps which need to be taken to reach the CVM objectives and therefore to complete this important process under this Commission mandate, in line with the goal set by President Juncker. The speed of this process depends how quickly the Romanian authorities are able to take the remaining steps in an irreversible way, in a way that does not call into question the progress made so far. I hope in 2017 we will see the speed, determination and internal safeguards needed to complete the necessary reforms and ensure the irreversibility of the results." The previous CVM reports were published on 27 January 2016. These new reports concern the period since then, as well as an overall review of progress during the 10 years in which the CVM has been in place. The next formal reports are likely to come towards the end of 2017. Press releases are available on the Bulgarian Report and on the Romanian Report, and a Memo on the CVM process is also online here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tim McPhie - Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

European Border and Coast Guard: Commission reports towards full operationalisation and recommends opening negotiations to allow deployments in Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The European Commission is today taking stock of the progress achieved and the work still needed in making the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency fully operational. Three months after the launch of the Agency, important steps have been completed, including the setting up of mandatory rapid reaction pools for border guards and equipment and the launch of new pools for return intervention teams. Currently, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has more than 1,550 officers deployed to support Member States who have the primary role and competence in reinforcing the controls at the external border, complementing their existing national capacities of Member States. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "After the record-time adoption of the European Border and Coast Guard, all stakeholders have worked at full speed in the past three months to ensure that the Agency can intervene at our common borders whenever and wherever necessary and as quickly as possible. We now propose further concrete steps to accelerate this work. I call upon Member States to provide for the necessary human resources and equipment so that the Agency is soon fully operational."Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "In only three months, we have made incredible progress in rolling out the activities of the European Border and Coast Guard. The rapid reaction pools of border guards and equipment are in place now, ensuring that there will no longer be shortages of staff or equipment for emergency situations across the EU. In addition, the new pools of return intervention teams will support Member States' efforts to enhance the return of irregular migrants – a core element of our European Agenda on Migration. I call on all stakeholders to continue their work and cooperation to fully and swiftly roll out the European Border and Coast Guard in all its aspects."  Today, the Commission also recommended the Council authorise the opening of negotiations with Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to allow for carrying out operational activities on their territory which may imply the deployment of European Border and Coast Guard teams to both countries. Once adopted by the Council, the Commission will start the formal negotiations with these two countries. Under its new mandate, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency can deploy teams in the territory of neighbouring third countries, subject to prior agreement of the third country concerned. Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have been selected as priority third countries by the Commission. A 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)

 

Fourth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union

Today, the Commission presented its fourth report on the progress made towards building an effective and genuine Security Union. This month's report highlights key developments in four areas: (i) information systems and interoperability, (ii) soft target protection, (iii) cyber threat and (iv) data protection in the context of criminal investigations. The report also outlines some of the upcoming initiatives aimed at further strengthening the EU's defence and resilience against terrorism and organised crime. European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King, said: "It's essential that we continue our important work on further connecting and improving our databases and information exchange as it will make a real difference to Europe's security. In addition, with increasing concerns around cyber threats, we need to put extra effort into building our resilience within cyber space, tackling cybercrime, investing in research and innovation in this area and cooperating widely with industry, Member States and third countries. This is why, in the months to come, we will identify further actions to provide an effective EU-wide framework for cybersecurity". The report is available here, while the next progress report is due to be published on 1 March. More information on existing and future EU information systems is available in a factsheet here and an updated Security Union timeline here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months 

The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months. Despite the progressive stabilisation of the situation and the implementation of a series of measures proposed by the Commission to better manage the external borders and protect the Schengen area, the Commission considers that the conditions of the "Back to Schengen" Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area have not yet been entirely fulfilled. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Significant progress has been made to lift internal border controls, but we need to solidify it further. This is why we recommend allowing member states concerned to maintain temporary border controls for a further three months." Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of EU integration, which we must not take for granted. The European Commission is and remains fully committed to work with Member States in gradually phasing out temporary internal border controls and return to a normal functioning of the Schengen area without internal border control as soon as possible. While over the past months we have been continuously strengthening our measures to address the unprecedented migratory pressure that Europe is facing, we are not there yet unfortunately. That is why we recommend that the Council allows Member States to continue limited temporary internal border controls for another three months, under strict conditions, and only as a last resort." A press release and a Q&A are available. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

 

Investment Plan for Europe: EUR 18 million for innovative companies in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and UniCredit Leasing have signed an InnovFin SME guarantee agreement to enhance access to finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. This agreement is expected to generate a loan portfolio of EUR 18 million over the next two years. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “SMEs are crucial drivers of jobs and growth in the Baltic states and Europe generally. It is therefore essential to facilitate their access to the new financing solutions that will enable them to grow and create jobs. I am glad that the Investment Plan for Europe is making it possible for SMEs across the Baltic region to benefit from loans and leases that would otherwise not have been available to them.” A full press release is available here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

New project to help more than 6 000 refugee and migrant children in Greece

A new joint action between UNICEF and the European Union will support more than 6 000 refugee and migrant children, including unaccompanied minors, across Greece. The € 8.5 million initiative will be financed through the EU Emergency Support Instrument, which enables the European Commission to fund emergency operations within the EU. "Refugee children, especially unaccompanied minors, are among the most vulnerable persons and it is our moral duty to help them and protect them as much as we can. This is the objective of this new project, which will provide accommodation, protection services and psychosocial support. It will also focus on education, which can help create at least some sense of normality and safety to thousands of children,” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. There are an estimated 21 000 refugee and migrant children in Greece. Many of them suffer deep psychosocial distress as a result of their troubled experiences and tough living conditions in refugee sites and lingering uncertainty. Many of them, regardless of their age, have been out of school for two years on average. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi –  Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Performance Sports Group by Fairfax and Sagard

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of joint control over the US company Performance Sports Group by Fairfax and Lagard, both of Canada. Performance Sports Group manufactures and sells sports equipment. Fairfax is a company engaged in property, casualty insurance and reinsurance and in investment management. Sagard primarily invests in medium-sized companies in the US and Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the activities of Fairfax and Lagard on the one hand and of Performance Sports Group on the other do not overlap, nor are they present on related markets. 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.8327. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Transcom by Altor Fund

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Transcom Worldwide by Altor Fund, both of Sweden. Altor Fund is active in private equity investments in a variety of economic sectors, while Transcom is a global provider of outsourced customer services and support to third parties through call centres. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies' activities do not overlap. 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.8311. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Concentrations: la Commission approuve l'acquisition du groupe Pisto par Macquarie et Crédit Agricole

La Commission Européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition en contrôle conjoint de la société française Macquarie Strategic Storage Facilities Holdings S.A.R.L, tête du groupe Pisto, par les entreprises Macquarie Group Limited (Australie) et Crédit Agricole SA (France). Le groupe Pisto est actif dans la gestion d’installations de réception, de stockage et de transfert de produits pétroliers. Il est actuellement sous le contrôle exclusif de Macquarie. Macquarie fournit des services bancaires et financiers, ainsi que des services de conseil, d'investissement et de gestion de fonds. Crédit Agricole offre des services bancaires et d’assurance. La Commission a conclu que la concentration envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problèmes de concurrence, compte tenu que ni Macquarie, ni Crédit Agricole, n'exercent d'activités sur les marchés sur lesquels le groupe Pisto est actif ou sur des marchés voisins. La transaction a été examinée selon la procédure simplifiée de contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8339.


ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

Commissaires Avramopoulos et Jourová participent au Conseil informel Justice et affaires intérieures à Malte

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissaire à la migration, aux affaires intérieures et à la citoyenneté, et Vera Jourová, Commissaire à la justice, aux consommateurs et à l'égalité des genres, participeront à la réunion informelle du Conseil Justice et affaires intérieurs à Malte les 26 et 27 janvier. Jeudi, le Commissaire Avramopoulos discutera avec les ministres des affaires intérieures de la réforme du régime d’asile européen commun (CEAS), qui inclut la réforme de Dublin, d'Eurodac et l'établissement de l'Agence de l'Union européenne pour l’asile. Les ministres des affaires intérieures feront aussi le point sur les progrès réalisés en matière de systèmes informatiques, qui permettent d'assurer une plus grande sécurité aux frontières extérieures de l'Union européenne. Vendredi matin, Commissaire Avramopoulos participera à une conférence sur les enfants migrants disparus. Vendredi, Commissaire Jourová discutera de l'établissement d'un parquet européen (EPPO), de la directive sur l'insolvabilité avec les ministres de la justice et présentera les propositions de la Commission en matière de lutte contre le financement du terrorisme. Commissaire Jourová informera également les ministres de la justice sur la mise en œuvre du système d’interconnexion des registres du commerce et des sociétés et sur la recommandation de la Commission sur les recours collectifs. Les conférences de presse seront diffusées live à 17h jeudi et à 13h jeudi. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253)

 

Federica Mogherini travels to Beirut for first visit after the election of President Michel Aoun and the formation of a new government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri

The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) Federica Mogherini will travel to Beirut on 25 and 26 January, where she will meet with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil as well as the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri. This visit will be the occasion to enhance the long-standing partnership between the EU and Lebanon and support Lebanon's institutions during this important period for the country's democracy, as well as to exchange views on the current regional challenges facing both Europe and the Lebanon, particularly the conflict in Syria, security, counter-terrorism and refugees. In the margins of the meetings, the HR/VP will also meet with students of the Bar Elias School located in the Beka'a Valley and will donate the €10,000 that she received as winner of the 2016 Bonn International Prize for Democracy to the school, in acknowledgement of the generosity of Lebanon in hosting Syrian refugees, as well as of the dedication of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in guaranteeing all children with access to education. All related press events will be available on EbS. (For more information: Nabila Massrali  – Tel.: + 32 229-69218; Lauranne Devillé – Tel.: +32 229-80833)

 

Vice-President Dombrovskis in Berlin

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, is in Berlin today and tomorrow. This evening, he meets Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to discuss issues related to financial markets and regulation. Tomorrow, he will deliver the keynote address at the conference Finanzmarktklausur 2017, organised by Wirtschaftsrat Deutschland. The speech will focus on strengthening the banking sector, deepening the Capital Markets Union and supporting innovation and investment. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

 

Nominations aux Oscars 2017: 10 films soutenus par MEDIA en compétition dans 7 catégories

Dix films soutenus par le programme audiovisuel européen MEDIA seront en compétition cette année lors de la 89ème cérémonie des Oscars qui se tiendra dans la nuit du 26 au 27 février à Los Angeles, et ce dans 7 catégories différentes. Toni Erdmann (Allemagne), Land of Mine (Danemark) et A man called Ove (Suède) ont été nominés dans la catégorie "Meilleur film en langue étrangère". A man called Ove a aussi été nominé pour l'Oscar des "Meilleurs maquillages et coiffures"Ma vie de courgette (France, Suisse) et La Tortue rouge (France, Belgique, Japon) concourront dans la catégorie "Meilleur film d’animation". L'actrice française Isabelle Huppert, qui tient le premier rôle dans Elle (France), ainsi que l'actrice américaine Meryl Streep, héroïne de Florence Foster Jenkins (Royaume-Uni), concourront pour l'Oscar de la "Meilleure actrice". Florence Foster Jenkins est également retenu dans la catégorie "Meilleurs costumes". The Lobster (Ireland, Royaume Uni, Pays-Bas, Grèce, France, États-Unis) est, quant à lui, sur les rangs pour décrocher l'Oscar du "Meilleur scénario original". Enfin, Fuocoammare, par-delà Lampedusa (Fire at sea - Italie, France) et Je ne suis pas votre nègre (France, États-Unis) font partie des nominés pour l'Oscar du "Meilleur film documentaire". (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein - Tel.: +32 229 56184)

 

 

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