Better Control of Borders, Private Security Firms Key to Stopping ‘Guns for Hire’, Speakers Say at Security Council Debate on Mercenary Activities in Africa

From illicit trafficking in the Sahel, to post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire and innumerable abuses against civilians in the Central African Republic, mercenary activities in Africa are a serious concern and must command greater attent…

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Mercenary Activities Undermine Rule of Law, Perpetuate Impunity, Secretary-General Stresses during Security Council Debate

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to a high-level debate of the Security Council on mercenary activities in Africa, in New York today:Deseo dar las gracias a la Presidencia de Guinea Ecuatorial por haber organiza…

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Text adopted – Third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement ***I – P8_TA-PROV(2018)0359 – Tuesday, 2 October 2018 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 77(2)(a) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,
After transmiss…

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Concerns Aired over Junior-Level Post Cuts, Insufficient Geographic Diversity among Workforce, as Fifth Committee Debates Human Resource Management

Staff members were the United Nations main asset, but greater efforts must be made to bring more women into the Organization’s ranks and to tackle long-standing concerns over geographical underrepresentation, speakers said today as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) turned its attention to human resources management issues.

They took the floor as the Secretariat introduced reports that put the number of staff members at 39,651 as of 31 December 2016, down 4 per cent from June 2013, with female staff accounting for 35.1 per cent of the total, up slightly from 33.9 per cent.  The number of Member States whose representation in the Secretariat was deemed to be desirable, or “within range”, declined from 125 in June 2013 to 102 in December 2016.  Twenty-nine Member States were deemed to have been overrepresented, 44 underrepresented and 18 not represented at all in the Organization.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were of staff from overrepresented countries, an ongoing trend since 2013, while the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was inversely increasing.  She also noted that the overall number of women in senior positions remained less than 50 per cent, and asked how many of them were from developing countries.

In the same vein, the representative of the United States — emphasizing that the Secretariat could do a lot more to improve the Organization’s human resources management system in an era when talented people enjoyed many employment options — said more could and should be done to increase the number of women staff members and to address the continuing challenge of underrepresentation, “including our own”.

Angola’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted with concern the persistent issue of the ever-increasing number of high-level posts, saying that contradicted the Organization’s objective of being more agile and field-oriented.  He said the Group also looked forward to hearing the reasons why the Secretariat had been unable to comply with guidance from the General Assembly to fill vacant posts within 120 days.  On disciplinary matters, the Group urged the Secretary-General to take more substantive steps to address allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse within the Organization.

The representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said both gender and geographical equity principles must advance together.  He encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure a more refined performance management system, particularly at the managerial and leadership levels, along with continuous assessment and evaluation of those changes.

Japan’s representative, meanwhile, voiced concern that the average age of United Nations staff had continued to increase slightly over the past five reporting periods, from 43.4 years to 44.8 years.  He called for efforts to facilitate an influx of young, diverse talent, and give them opportunities to develop their abilities and rejuvenate the workforce of the Secretariat.  Creating a modern organization and global workforce took commitment, he said, looking forward to an updated human resources management framework at the General Assembly’s seventy-third session.

Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports titled “Composition of the Secretariat:  staff demographics”, “Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017” and “Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules”, with Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced that body’s corresponding report.

The report on disciplinary matters, covering the period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, informed Member States about all actions taken in cases of established misconduct and/or criminal behaviour and the ensuing disciplinary and legal action, while the report on amendments to the Staff Regulations and changes notably addressed necessary changes to reflect the General Assembly’s decision to increase to 65 the mandatory separation age for staff members appointed before 1 January 2014.

Ian Richards, representative of the United Nations Secretariat staff, supported the proposed change in the Staff Regulations that would enable all staff on board on 1 January 2018 to work until 65 years of age.  On the Secretariat’s gender strategy, he stressed the importance of tackling trends such as the departure of women mid-career, which would require addressing issues such as child care, shared and extended parental leave and increased outreach and leadership training.  It was also time to update the policy on sexual harassment, he said, expressing concern as well about a long-term trend which had resulted in fewer junior posts and an increase of senior posts.  He also drew attention to a number of departments that were still not granting five-year, fixed-term contracts to qualified staff members, saying it had led to a two-track system within the Organization.

Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Committee Chair, made a brief statement, saying the diversity of the world and gender equality should be reflected in the Organization’s make-up.  That might be an old matter, he said, but it could be looked at with a fresh point of view.  He also encouraged delegations to aim to complete the Committee’s work according to the agreed schedule.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait and Pakistan, as well as the European Union.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, 1 November, to consider the proposed 2018‑2019 programme budget as it relates to the seismic mitigation retrofit and life-cycle replacements project at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok.

Composition of the Secretariat and other reports

MARTHA HELENA LOPEZ, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports titled “Composition of the Secretariat:  staff demographics” covering the reporting period from 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016 (document A/72/123), “Practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017” (document A/72/209) and “Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules” (document A/72/129/Rev.1).

On the composition of the Secretariat, she said the total number of staff members on 31 December 2016 stood at 39,651, down 480 or 1.2 per cent from 30 June 2016, reflecting a decrease of staff for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and 45 other entities as well as no change or an increase of staff at 52 entities.  Over the last five reporting periods, or four and a half years, Secretariat staff had decreased by 4 per cent.  The percentage of staff holding a permanent or continuing appointment rose from 18 per cent in June 2013 to 25 per cent in December 2016, while that of staff on fixed-term appointments fell from 78 per cent to 67 per cent.  The ratios of female staff to total staff increased slightly from 33.9 per cent to 35.1 per cent over the same five reporting periods, while the average age of staff increased slightly from 43.4 to 44.8 years.  With regard to representation, the number of Member States “within range” decreased from 125 to 102 from June 2013 to December 2016.

On the report titled Amendments to the Staff Regulations and Rules, she said it contained amendments required to implement an increase to 65 the mandatory age of separation for staff members appointed before 1 January 2014, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/244.  It also contained amendments required to implement a revised education grant scheme, approved by the Assembly through the same resolution.  She said that, in addition to setting a new mandatory separation age, a new rule was being proposed to reflect, where applicable, staff members’ acquired right to separate at their normal retirement age — 60 or 62 — as defined under the Regulations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.  That proposed change would be implemented from 1 January 2018.

Changes to the revised education grant scheme would include a single-currency maximum grant amount, set in United States dollars, as opposed to the current scheme based on 15 currency/country zones, she said.  A streamlined list of admissible expenses would be applied, comprising tuition, mother-tongue tuition and enrolment-related fees, while the grant would be payable up to the end of the school year in which a child completed four years of post-secondary studies, or attained a first post-secondary degree, whichever came first, subject to an upper age limit of 25 years.  The proposed amendments would be implemented as of the school year in progress on 1 January 2018.

Turning to the report on disciplinary matters, she said it provided summaries of individual cases where the Secretary-General imposed disciplinary measures during the reporting period, as well as statistics on the numbers and types of cases received by the Office of Human Resources Management, the number of cases completed and the disposition of completed cases.  With respect to the summaries of cases, she said the report sought to better explain some of the considerations taken into account by the Secretary-General when deciding the measures to impose in a particular case.  That was a delicate task as it was important that information provided did not breach the right to confidentiality for the staff members involved.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced its report on Human resources management (document A/72/558), recalling the Advisory Committee’s previous recommendations regarding the analytical quality of the Secretary-General’s report on the Secretariat’s composition and the need to understand the underlying causes of several trends with a view to developing corrective measures and policy enhancements.  Specifically, the Advisory Committee noted with concern that since 2013, the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was increasing and reiterated its recommendations that greater efforts were needed to address that trend.  The Advisory Committee also noted no progress had been achieved regarding the growth in senior-level appointments and the “top heaviness” of the Secretariat, and it remained concerned about the upward shift in the grade structure and resulting fragmentation of leadership responsibilities.  The Advisory Committee was concerned that the administrative instruction on investigations and the disciplinary process was still under internal review and stressed that it must be promulgated as a matter of priority.  Also needed was greater clarity in the amendments proposed under the staff rule relating to administrative leave.

IAN RICHARDS, representative of the United Nations Secretariat staff, supported the proposed change in the Staff Regulations that would enable all staff on board on 1 January 2018 to work until 65 years of age.  He took note of the decision to pause and review the mobility policy which in two years of operation had only generated moves for 22 of the 241 staff that wanted a new assignment, representing a 9 per cent success rate.  He expressed concern over the proposed Global Service Delivery Model which would eliminate the current competitive market for administrative services and replace it with a monopoly provider with no incentive to improve costs and standards or innovate.  On the gender strategy, he stressed the importance of tackling trends such as the departure of women mid-career, which would require addressing issues such as child care, shared and extended parental leave and increased outreach and leadership training.  It was also time to update the policy on sexual harassment.  He went on to express concern about the long-term trend which had resulted in fewer junior posts, while the number of senior posts increased.  He also drew attention to a number of departments that were still not granting five-year, fixed-term contracts to qualified staff members, which had led to a two-track system within the United Nations.

AMÉRICA LOURDES PEREIRA SOTOMAYOR (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that it was vital that the Office of Human Resources Management implement the United Nations mandates in an environment that exemplified diversity, flexibility and dynamism.  The Group noted with concern that the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were of staff from overrepresented countries, an ongoing trend since 2013, while the number of Member States in the unrepresented and underrepresented categories was inversely increasing.  The Group noted the increase in the number of female staff members in the Secretariat to 35.1 per cent, although the overall number of women in senior positions was still less than 50 per cent.  The Group was interested in knowing how many of the women in senior positions were from developing countries.

The Group noted the increase in the average age of the Secretariat staff and emphasized the need to recruit young staff members to ensure the smooth transfer of institutional knowledge and to build capacity in the wake of retirement and other forms of separation, she said.  The Group noted the reported improvements in the responsiveness of investigating entities and the enhanced quality of investigation reports, although it was concerned that the information contained in the Secretary-General’s report on disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour did not provide a comprehensive overview of all the cases related to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse within the Organization.  The Group was concerned about the increased number of days to fill vacant posts and reiterated that the Staff Rules must comply with the Staff Regulations, whereby the latter could not be overruled or changed by the former.

DANIEL WANG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that given the increasingly complex global environment within which the United Nations must operate, a dynamic and motivated workforce was crucial.  To that end, ASEAN emphasised the need for more balanced gender and geographical representation in the United Nations system.  He was specifically concerned with the lack of equitable gender and geographical representation in the Secretariat, especially at senior levels.  But both gender and geographical equity principles must advance together, he said.

ASEAN encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure a more refined performance management system, particularly at the managerial and leadership levels, along with continuous assessment and evaluation of those changes, he said.  He noted the Joint Inspection Unit’s report on knowledge management and agreed it should be a strategic priority in all United Nations systems.  In closing, he urged the Secretary-General to deal with all cases of staff misconduct in a timely fashion and with appropriate disciplinary action.

MARCIO SANDRO ALEIXO PEREIRA BURITY (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed that an equitable geographic representation in the Secretariat remained a priority for the Group.  He noted with serious concern that the number of Member States within the desirable range for representation in geographical posts had decreased by 18 per cent from 125 to 102.  Moreover, the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution were for staff of overrepresented countries.  The Group was interested in learning more about the reasons for that and sought more information on the progress in implementing the General Assembly decision on the desirable ranges system set up to address the issue of geographical representation.

The Group also noted with concern the persistent issue of the ever-increasing number of high-level posts, which contradicted the objective of the Organization to be more agile and field-oriented, he said.  The Group also expected to receive clarification from the Secretariat on the reasons for the continuing delay in implementing the 120-day guidance provided by the General Assembly to fill vacant posts, as well as the apparent lack of effort to rejuvenate the Organization.  On disciplinary matters, the Group urged the Secretary-General to take more substantive actions to address allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.  The Group also emphasized that proposals to amend the Staff Regulations and Rules must follow decisions of the General Assembly as well as the Administrative Tribunals, and in that context, the Group would carefully examine the amendments related to the staff separation age and the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

JAN DE PRETER, European Union, describing staff members as the Organization’s main asset, welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to improve human resources management.  The European Union also welcomed simplified human resource policies and procedures, improved workforce planning, better recruitment procedures, personnel mobility and enhanced performance management.  “The right-sizing of the Secretary should be a priority,” he said, expressing concern however that gender imbalance remained a persistent issue, especially at the senior level and in field operations.  He added that, during the current session, the focus should be on time-bound issues and other urgent business at hand, allowing sufficient time for the Secretary-General to further develop his proposals and get back to the Advisory Committee.

ALI ABDULLATIF ALI ALYAHYA (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the United Nations, particularly regarding management reform.  Better management of human resources was essential to achieving progress.  Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals would require a great deal of effort, and in that context, he emphasized the importance of ensuring all United Nations offices, particularly those away from headquarters, were properly staffed to make the fulfilment of the Goals possible.  He went on to underscore that his delegation would like to see Kuwait better-represented across the Organization, while also pointing to the need for better geographical representation overall in all United Nations bodies.

CHERITH A. NORMAN CHALET (United States) said the Secretariat could do a lot more to improve the Organization’s human resources management system.  With talented people having many employment options, the United Nations must move faster in its recruitment efforts to remain a viable option for many candidates.  At the same time, the Organization must do more to recognize and reward outstanding performance and address under-performance.  In that regard, strong and empowered leadership was essential.  More could and should be done as well to increase the number of women staff members and to address the continuing challenge of under-representation, “including our own”.  She went on to ask that the Organization’s leadership carefully and continually review the resources at its disposal to ensure that they were optimally configured for mandate delivery.  That was among many ways in which it could act now to ensure that it remained relevant, she said.

KEISUKE FUKUDA (Japan), stressing that diversity was one of the defining features of the Organization, welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to launch a system-wide strategy on gender parity.  Expressing concern that the average age of the United Nations staff had continued to increase slightly over the past five reporting periods, he called for efforts to facilitate an influx of young, diverse talent, and give them opportunities to develop their abilities and rejuvenate the workforce of the Secretariat.  Creating a modern organization and global workforce took commitment, he said, looking forward to receiving an updated human resources management framework at the seventy-third session of the General Assembly.

HASEEB GOHAR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, reiterated his country’s support for continuing human resources reforms, while also pointing out the necessity of regularly evaluating their impact in order to refine and improve them.  It was regrettable that, since 2013, the largest number of appointments to posts subject to geographical distribution was of staff members from overrepresented countries, he said, calling for enhanced representation of Member States which were either unrepresented or underrepresented.  There was merit in considering contributions to peacekeeping when revising any system of desirable ranges in terms of adequate representation, he observed, calling for the creation of a new paradigm to reduce disparities prevalent in the Organization.

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Daily News 04 / 08 / 2016

The EU imposes definitive anti-dumping duties on steel product from China and Russia

The EU today imposed definitive anti-dumping measures a steel product from China and Russia. These duties will be in place for five years and for the first time they will also be levied retroactively on imports registered during the two months that preceded the adoption of provisional measures on 12 February 2016. The product at stake is “cold rolled steel”, an industrial input for the packaging, white goods, general industry, automotive industry and the construction industry. The investigation was initiated on 14 May 2015 following a complaint submitted by the industry. The duties range from 19.7% to 22.1% for Chinese and from 18.7% to 36.1% for Russian companies.In the wake of the global steel overcapacity crisis, the Commission is applying the trade defence instruments to re-establish a level-playing field between EU and foreign producers. The EU currently has over 100 trade defence measures in place, 37 of them targeting unfair imports of steel products, 15 of which from China. 12 more investigations concerning steel products are still ongoing. The full details of the decision can be found here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: + 32 229 56185; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

EU steps up aid for Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon as humanitarian crisis worsens

Today the European Commission has announced an additional €12.5 million in humanitarian aid to support people in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon as they face a deteriorating humanitarian crisis. €9 million will be provided to support people in Nigeria, €2 million in Cameroon and €1.5 million in Niger. The new funding comes as violence by the terrorist group Boko Haram from northern Nigeria has severely destabilised the Lake Chad region, causing the displacement of millions of people.”When travelling to the region last month, I witnessed the plight of people in the Lake Chad Basin. Millions have been displaced and the number of those struggling to find food is increasingly alarming. The situation in Nigeria is especially dramatic. As always, children are hit the hardest and we must urgently intervene to stop their suffering. This additional EU funding will focus on emergency assistance, primarily in the areas of food and nutrition, water and sanitation, and health. All efforts should be made to ensure that humanitarian organisations can safely reach those who need urgent help.”said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. The EU aid announced today comes on top of the €58 million previously allocated to the Lake Chad Basin crisis, bringing overall EU humanitarian aid to over €70 million for the region in 2016. Read the full press release here (For more information: Nabila Massrali – Tel.: +32 229 69218; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

Commission publishes the first results of the “ePrivacy” public consultation

Today the European Commission has published the preliminary findings of the public consultation on the review of the ePrivacy Directive. This legislation applies to electronic communications services and needs to be adapted to the new General data protection regulation which will enable people to better control their personal data. A large number of responses came from citizens (38,5%) and more than a quarter of responses came from Germany, followed by the UK and Belgium. According to the preliminary findings, 83% of the individuals and civil society organisations who took part in the consultation agreed that there was a clear added value in having specific privacy rules for the electronic communications sector to ensure the confidentiality of electronic communications. In addition, 76% of individuals and civil society respondents believe that the scope of the rules should be broadened to cover the so-called over-the-top service providers (OTT) when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. However, 76% of these groups also said that the ePrivacy Directive has not or has but to a limited extent achieved its objectives of ensuring full protection of privacy and confidentiality of communication. This was attributed to its scope being too limited, its rules leading to differences between Member States and too low compliance and enforcement. Industry and public authorities were more positive that the ePrivacy Directive has achieved its objectives; however 42% of industry respondents are against the scope of the rules being broadened to cover theOTT when they offer communications services such as VoIP or instant messaging. The review of the ePrivacy Directive is one of the key initiatives proposed under the EU Digital Single Market strategy. The Commission has committed to reviewing the EU’s privacy rules for electronic communications in order to reinforce trust and security in digital services, to ensure a high level of protection for people and a level playing field for all market players. The proposals are expected later this year, meanwhile the Commission will analyse the replies of the public consultation and publish its conclusions in the autumn. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

Mergers: Commission clears Vodafone/Liberty Global telecoms joint venture, subject to conditions; rejects referral request by Dutch competition authority

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture in the Netherlands by mobile telecom operator Vodafone and cable company Liberty Global. The decision is conditional on Vodafone divesting its consumer fixed line business in the Netherlands. Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The telecoms market is of strategic importance for our digital society. I am pleased that we have been able to approve the creation of the joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global in the Netherlands. The commitments offered by Vodafone ensure that Dutch consumers will continue to enjoy competitive prices and good choice.” The Commission had concerns that the proposed transaction would have eliminated the benefits brought to the Dutch telecoms market by Vodafone’s recent entry. The divestment offered by Vodafone fully addresses these concerns, allowing the Commission to clear this telecoms merger in Phase I. In parallel, the Commission has also rejected a request to refer the assessment of the transaction to the Dutch competition authority. A full press release is available in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Voith Industrial Services by Triton

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Voith Industrial Servicesof Germany by Triton Fund IV of the United Kingdom.  Voith provides a wide range of technical services in the automotive, engineering and energy-petrochemicals sectors. Triton is a private equity investment firm, dedicated to investing in European-based businesses in a variety of sectors. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because of its very limited impact on the market structure. In particular, there are limited overlaps between the activities of Voith and the companies in the portfolio of Triton. 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.8081. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

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

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Daily News 15 / 07 / 2016

Interventions du Président Jean-Claude Juncker suite aux attentats à Nice, France

Suite aux attentats de hier soir à Nice, le président de la Commission européenne Jean-Claude Juncker a déclaré: “Je suis très touché et affligé par la terrible épreuve qui vient de toucher la belle ville de Nice en ce jour de fête nationale.” Le président a également adressé une lettre au président de la République française Francois Hollande, réaffirmant l’engagement de la Commission européenne à être aux côtés de la France et des autres États membres pour lutter contre le terrorisme à l’intérieur comme à l’extérieur de l’Union européenne, en écrivant “Notre détermination reste aussi ferme que notre unité.” Dans une lettre adressée au président du conseil régional de Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Christian Estrosi, il a exprimé sa plus grande solidarité envers les victimes, leurs familles et tous les Niçois et Niçoises aujourd’hui dans le deuil. Le Président Juncker et les leaders participant actuellement au Sommet Asie-Europe à Oulan-Bator ont également publié une déclaration commune sur le terrorisme international, condamnant les attentats récents en Europe, Asie et ailleurs. En outre, Le Président Juncker s’est réuni avec le Président du Conseil européen, M. Donald Tusk, ainsi que le Premier ministre du Japon, M. Shinzō Abe pour une conférence de presse pendant laquelle ils ont déclaré: “L’acte terroriste, qui fut lâche et barbare, qui a frappé la ville de Nice pendant la nuit m’a profondément choqué, attristé, affligé”. Intervenant à la session plénière de l’ASEM à Oulan-Bator ce matin le président Juncker a poursuivi: “Ce qui s’est passé à Nice est la négation de tout ce en quoi nous croyons, de tout ce qui nous réunit.” (Pour plus d’informations: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

 

Energy: EU invests €263 million in energy infrastructure

Today EU Member States agreed on the European Commission’s proposal to invest €263 million in key European energy infrastructure projects. The lion’s share of the investment will support the building of gas infrastructure in the Baltic Sea region as well as supporting the electricity sector across Europe. Nine projects were selected following a call for proposals under the EU funding support programme the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The selected priority projects aim to increase energy security, connect the isolated EU Member States to the wider European grid and contribute to the Energy Union objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Well-connected energy infrastructure is essential to achieving the Energy Union. This EU support will help fill existing gaps in energy infrastructure, putting us on the path to a truly connected European energy market. This is necessary to strengthen the security of energy supply and a more efficient use of the energy resources and integration of renewables into the grid.” With a total of €800 million available for grants under Connecting Europe Facility – Energy in 2016, the second 2016 call for proposals with an indicative budget of €600 million is currently ongoing and will close on 8 November. Under the Connecting Europe Facility, a total of €5.35 billion was allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure for the period of 2014-2020. Read entire press release in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

 

EU steps up humanitarian aid for victims of Boko Haram in Africa’s Lake Chad region

The European Commission has today announced €58.2 million in humanitarian aid to support the populations in the Lake Chad region in Africa. The funding brings the overall EU humanitarian aid package for the Sahel region to over €203 million in 2016. “A full-scalehumanitarian crisis has been fuelled by violence in a fragile region. The EU is committed to supporting those displaced and affected by the violence of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. Our support will target the most vulnerable in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger where more than two and a half million people have been displaced by the terror of Boko Haram alone. Our aid will help provide food, shelter, clean water, and healthcare, as well as protection to the displaced and the host communities. Everything must be done so humanitarian aid workers can deliver lifesaving assistance safely and urgently access those in need” saidCommissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides who is currently on a visit to the region. The violence inflicted by the terrorist group Boko Haram from northern Nigeria has destabilised the entire Lake Chad region, causing large scale displacements of people.A full press release is available here. A map showing the funding is available here (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

EU adopts decisions to recognise equivalence and adequacy of US auditor oversight authorities

The European Commission has today adopted two decisions recognising the equivalence and adequacy of the US auditor oversight authorities. These decisions extend the current agreement, which expires on 31 July 2016, by a further six years. Commissioner Jonathan Hill, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: “I welcome the extension of both decisions as it provides a strong basis for continued cooperation between the EU and the US. Both partners share the objective of promoting confidence and protecting investors. The auditor oversight authorities are committed to strengthening their cooperation further in order to achieve even greater mutual reliance in the future.” For more information on the new audit rules, see our memo. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

Mergers: Commission clears ice cream joint venture between PAI Partners and Nestlé

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of Froneri, a joint venture by PAI Partners of France and Nestlé of Switzerland. Froneri will manufacture and market ice cream products in and outside of Europe, and frozen food products in Europe. PAI Partners will contribute to Froneri its ice cream business, operating as R&R. Nestlé will contribute its ice cream business in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Philippines, Brazil and Argentina and part of its frozen food business in Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because R&R and Nestlé are not close competitors in the European Economic Area ice cream markets and will continue to face competition from Unilever and several other ice cream manufacturers. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case registerunder the case number M.7946.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

Mergers: Commission approves the acquisition of joint control over Novy by BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, Sofindev and DHAM

The Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Novy International NV by BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity Belgium NV, Sofindev IV NV and DHAM NV, all of Belgium. Novy is the holding company controlling the Novy Group which is active in the design, manufacture and marketing of high‑end kitchen appliances. BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equityis a branch office of BNP Paribas dedicated to private equity and mezzanine financing. Sofindev is a private equity firm, investing in Belgian small and medium sized enterprises. DHAM is the holding company of the Colruyt group which is mainly active in the retail of daily consumer goods, but is also involved in other activities including foodservice, fuel retail and wholesale of daily consumer goods. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because Novy’s activities do not overlap with those of BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity and Sofindev and their portfolio companies, nor with those of the Colruyt Group. 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.8094.  (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

 

EUROSTAT: Mai 2016 – Excédent de 24,6 mrds d’euros du commerce international de biens de la zone euro, Excédent de 6,4 mrds d’euros pour l’UE28

D’après les premières estimations pour le mois de mai 2016, les exportations de biens de la zone euro (ZE19) vers le reste du monde se sont établies à 167,4 milliards d’euros, en hausse de 2% par rapport à mai 2015 (164,3 mrds). Les importations depuis le reste du monde ont quant à elles été de 142,8 mrds d’euros, en recul de 2% par rapport à mai 2015 (146,0 mrds). En conséquence, la zone euro a enregistré en mai 2016 un excédent de 24,6 mrds d’euros de son commerce international de biens avec le reste du monde, contre +18,3 mrds en mai 2015. Le commerce intra-zone euro a augmenté à 139,4 mrds d’euros en mai 2016, soit +1% par rapport à mai 2015. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

EUROSTAT: Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro en hausse à 0,1%

Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro s’est établi à 0,1% en juin 2016, contre -0,1% en mai. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,2%. Le taux d’inflation annuel de l’Union européenne s’est établi à 0,0% en juin 2016, contre -0,1% en mai. Un an auparavant, il était de 0,1%. Ces chiffres sont publiés par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne.(For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

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

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Antitrust: Commission takes further steps in investigations alleging Google’s comparison shopping and advertising-related practices breach EU rules

The European Commission has sent two Statements of Objections to Google. The Commission has reinforced, in a supplementary Statement of Objections, its preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages. Separately, the Commission has also informed Google in a Statement of Objections of its preliminary view that the company has abused its dominant position by artificially restricting the possibility of third party websites to display search advertisements from Google’s competitors. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate. Today, we have further strengthened our case that Google has unduly favoured its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages. It means consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries. We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation. Google now has the opportunity to respond to our concerns. I will consider their arguments carefully before deciding how to take both cases forward. But if our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the Commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets.” Commissioner Vestager is presenting these decisions at 12 pm CET today, which you can follow live here. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE and all other EU languages. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Capital Markets Union: New Rules To Support Investment In Venture Capital And Social Enterprises

The European Commission has today proposed amendments to the European Venture Capital Funds (EuVECA) and the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds (EuSEF) regulations, marking another step towards the creation of the Capital Markets Union. Today’s proposal aims to make it easier and more attractive for investors to invest in small and medium-sized innovative companies and social projects. In particular, the Commission is proposing to open up EuVECA and EuSEF funds to fund managers of all sizes, and to expand the range of companies that can benefit from venture capital funds. The Commission also aims to make the cross border marketing of EuVECA and EuSEF funds cheaper and easier by explicitly prohibiting fees levied by Member States and simplifying registration processes, in order to increase the number of managers, funds, and investments in venture capital and social enterprises. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Today we are removing another barrier to investment at EU level which is a key objective of the Investment Plan for Europe. The three main changes we are proposing to the EuVECA and EuSEF regulations today – broadening the scope of eligible managers; expanding the list of EuVECA eligible assets; and prohibiting fees imposed by competent authorities – will result in a greater number of SMEs getting access to the vital finance they need to grow their businesses.” Commissioner Jonathan Hill said: “This proposal is part of the package of measures in the CMU Action Plan to strengthen venture capital markets. This proposal will build up scale, diversity and choice for investors, venture capital and social enterprises. Other actions foreseen include the launch of a large-scale fund-of-funds, blending EU and private capital, to support investment in innovative companies across the whole EU.” Today’s proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for adoption under the co-decision procedure. Today at 12:30 CET, a press release and memo will be published, and a statement by Commissioner Hill can be watched on EbS. (For more information: Vanessa Mock – Tel.: +32 229 56194; Letizia Lupini – Tel.: +32 229 51958)  

 

European Commission announces €145 million in humanitarian aid for 7 countries in Africa’s Sahel region

During a visit in Niger today, Commissioner Stylianides will announce €145 million in EU humanitarian assistance for the Sahel region in 2016 to address the basic needs of the populations, tackle malnutrition and provide food to the most vulnerable people. “Saving lives continues to be the EU’s first priority in Niger and the Sahel region. Our new humanitarian funding will provide essential nutrition and health treatment to young children and their mothers, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as training and support to health centres. The EU is working hand in hand with humanitarian organisations to help the most vulnerable”, said Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who will visit EU funded aid projects in Niger. A significant amount, totalling €29 million will be allocated to the most vulnerable in Niger. The country is facing persistent acute food insecurity, child malnutrition and the displacement of people fleeing conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria. Overall, funding will be provided to those in need in 7 countries: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Cameroon. Read the full press release here. (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

President Juncker addresses Asia-Europe Business Forum

Today 14 July in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, President Juncker addressed the 15thAsia-Europe Business Forum. Bringing together business leaders from both regions, the Forum is part of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In his speech, President Juncker set out his commitment to work for a global economy that is fair, transparent and governed by rules. He underlined the need for strong public-private partnerships to deliver this. “The business community will play a central role,” said the President. “You are the engines of change and innovation. You have the power to bring our two great regions closer together. But with your power comes responsibility. You have a duty to act as good citizens: respecting the rules of the game, investing in people and taking care of our planet.” On 15-16 July, still in Ulaanbaatar, President Juncker will attend the 11th ASEM Summit together with EU High Representative and Commission Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, and European Council President, Donald Tusk. Government leaders from both regions will discuss a range of global and regional issues including security, terrorism, climate change, migration, economic cooperation and sustainable development. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382)

Investment Plan for Europe: new EFSI deals signed in Greece and Spain

Today two new deals have been signed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. In Athens, the European Investment Fund signed an agreement with the National Bank of Greece to provide EUR 100 million in loans to over 350 Greek SMEs. Chief Spokesperson of the Commission, Margaritis Schinas, was in Athens to attend the agreement signature on behalf of President Juncker and Vice-President Katainen. Meanwhile in Madrid, the European Investment Bank signed a contract with car manufacturer Gestamp Automoción in Spain to invest EUR 160 million in research, development and innovation. The EFSI-backed financing will allow the company, which has factories in Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK, to invest in RDI to make more environmentally-friendly cars with safer and lighter bodywork. Commenting on the Gestamp project, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “The European Union is investing in research and innovation to support growth and jobs, and to tackle today’s challenges. The project signed today by the European Investment Bank and Gestamp Automoción under the Commission’s Investment Plan is a great example of the value of our investment. The funding will make cars safer and greener, and create hundreds of jobs in Spain and elsewhere.” (For more information see here or contact Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhán Millbright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

The European Commission is today publishing a record number of EU proposals from the ongoing 14th round of talks for a trade agreement with the United States, taking place in Brussels this week. As part of its drive for a more transparent trade and investment policy, the Commission is making these proposals public only days after submitting them to our negotiating partners. The nine proposals published today are intended to simplify technical regulations without lowering standards, and to set global rules of trade. Specifically, the published texts represent the EU’s negotiating position on regulatory cooperation in the sectors of cosmetics, medical devices, cars, chemicals and textiles. Also published today is a new article on climate protection as a part of the chapter on sustainable development, as well as separate chapters on energy and raw materials,market access for financial services, and on institutional cooperation within TTIP. The proposal for regulatory cooperation in the engineering sector will follow. The published texts show that the Commission is delivering on the goal established at the beginning of the year – to have almost all proposals for chapters of TTIP on the table and consolidate as many texts as possible by the summer break. Yesterday, the Commission organised a series of stakeholder events at the fringes of the negotiations, where interested stakeholders were briefed on the status of the negotiations and exchanged views with the chief EU and US negotiators. Tomorrow at 15:00 in Brussels there will be a press conference with the two chief negotiators on the 14th round of TTIP negotiations, which will also be broadcast live on Europe by Satellite. Photos of the negotiation round are also available. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

Annual Agri-food trade report 2015: EU first exporter worldwide

The European Commission today published the Agri-food trade in 2015 report, which shows EU exports for agricultural products reached €129 billion in 2015. This means an annual increase of 5.7%, securing the EU’s position as first world agri-food exporter with a net trade surplus of €16 billion. The entire output of the European Union’s agricultural sector was valued at €410 billion in 2015. Agriculture and the food and drink industry together employ millions of people, accounting for 7.5 % of employment and 3.7 % of total value added in the EU, according to the annual report. Although some Member States and sectors still suffered from the Russian ban and from low world market prices, the overall EU agricultural trade performance was positive in 2015. EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan commented on the report: “Our trade performance continues to be a real good news story for the EU agri-food sector. Our high production standards and commitment to quality food and drink products ensure continuing global demand. In the coming months, I hope to see further export growth for Europe’s farmers and agri-food businesses, and the Commission will support them every step of the way.” A press release on the annual report and the monthly agri-food trade report for May are now available online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

           

Commission adopts measures to protect against money laundering and terrorist financing from high risk third countries

Today, the European Commission has formally adopted a list of third countries having strategic deficiencies in their regimes on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Terrorist Financing (CFT). This completes the package of stronger transparency rules to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering brought forward last week. Banks will have to carry out additional checks (‘enhanced due diligence measures’) on financial flows from these 11 countries. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “Today’s list is part of our broader drive to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering. We need to cut off terrorists and other criminals from their resources. To put Europe at the forefront of the global fight against money laundering, we have proposed a common European set of stricter checks in relation to financial flows from these countries.” The Commission proposed on 5 July 2016 to harmonise the list of checks applicable to high-risk countries to prevent loopholes in Europe, where terrorists could run operations through countries with lower levels of protection. The EU will continue to engage across all relevant policy areas with the concerned countries, including through development cooperation, the ultimate goal being their compliance and removal from the list. The list of the Commission will be reviewed at least three times a year, after each Financial Action Task Force meeting assessing the latest developments. The Delegated Regulation will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council who have a one-month period to express objections (extendable to two months). If no objection has been expressed, it will be published in the Official Journal. The list is available online and more information on the latest Anti-Money Laundering amendments is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

EUROSTAT: Sommet Asie-Europe – les partenaires ASEM ont représenté en 2015 plus d’un tiers du commerce de biens de l’UE, déficit de l’UE de 277 milliards d’euros

En 2015, les 21 pays non-AELE participant au Sommet Asie-Europe (ci-après dénommés partenaires ASEM) comptaient ensemble pour 37% des échanges internationaux de biens de l’Union européenne (UE), avec une part des partenaires ASEM s’établissant à 29% pour les exportations de l’UE et à 46% pour ses importations. Sur la décennie 2005-2015, l’UE a constamment accusé un déficit commercial, toujours nettement supérieur à 200 milliards d’euros, avec les partenaires ASEM. En 2015, il se situait à 277 milliards d’euros, en baisse par rapport au pic de 320 milliards d’euros enregistré en 2008. Un communiqué de presse EUROSTAT est disponible en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

 

Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs today publishes its Quarterly Report on the Euro Area (QREA), featuring in-depth technical analyses of economic issues affecting the euro area. In this edition, staff economists look at the role of cross-border risk sharing, both through financial and labour market incomes generated across borders and through cross-border fiscal transfers, in mitigating asymmetric shocks, and compare the situation in the euro area to that of the United States. Other sections examine the mechanisms through which financial systems affect the real economy and confidence spill overs in the euro area. QREA Vol.15 No.2 will be published today at 15.00. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Audrey Augier – Tel.: +32 229 71607)

Raw materials: Commission highlights need for security of supply and investment*

Today the Commission is publishing the first Raw Materials Scoreboard prepared by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), under the responsibility of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. The Scoreboard provides a comprehensive set of indicators on both primary and secondary raw materials. It highlights the need to address the EU’s growing skills shortage, innovation needs and its import-dependency, providing valuable information for policy decisions. Speaking at a meeting of the High-Level Steering Group of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials this morning, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: The supply and affordability of raw materials are of strategic importance for the future of the European economy and society. With the European Innovation Partnership, the raw materials community has taken important steps towards increased security of supply and a more circular economy. Today, we made the case for the need to support investment in the field of raw materials, in particular for start-ups and SMEs trying to optimise their resource use. The meeting was organised by the European Commission as part of its efforts to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials for Europe and to boost investment into the raw materials and recycling sectors. The group, which is composed of representatives of the industry, NGOs, researchers, ministers and the Commission, adopted a’Strategic Evaluation Report’ on future priorities in the area of raw materials. The group also presented a voluntary ‘Declaration of Support’ for the setting up of a European Investment Platform on Raw Materials and Recycling for start-ups, brought forward by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials, under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). More information regarding the ‘Strategic Evaluation Report’ and the ‘Declaration of Support’ on the websites of DG Grow and JRC. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

Innovation performance compared: How innovative is your country?

Today, the Commission released the 2016 results of the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer. The main findings of the three reports are that Sweden is once again the innovation leader, Latvia has become the fastest growing innovator, and EU innovation is catching up with Japan and the US.By boosting private investment and improving the framework conditions for innovation, the EU has the potential to lead in innovation at the global stage.Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “I want Europe to be a place where innovative SMEs and start-ups flourish and scale up within the Single Market. This requires a concerted effort. At EU level, we need to simplify VAT regulation, adapt insolvency rules, make information on regulatory requirements more easily accessible and work on a clear and SME-friendly intellectual property framework. We also need to keep adapting the Single Market to ensure that innovative services such as the collaborative economy find their place.” Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, added: “Leading countries and regions are supporting innovation across a wide range of policies from investment to education, from flexible labour conditions to ensuring public administrations that value entrepreneurship and innovation. The Commission is doing its part by promoting innovation across policy areas too. Not only that, we’re also improving access to private finance through the €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe and the Capital Markets Union, as well as creating a new European Innovation Council.“Corina Crețu, Commissioner for Regional Policy, said: “Smart specialisation strategies help Member States and regions capitalise on their competitive assets in Research & Innovation and find opportunities for cooperation between business and academia. As such, they are compasses for innovative, long-term investments supported by ESI Funds and, when possible, other EU sources of finance. This contributes greatly to Europe’s shift towards a knowledge-based economy.” For further details on the results and the Commission’s actions to support innovation, a press release, frequently asked questions, the European Innovation Scoreboard, the Regional Innovation Scoreboard and the Innobarometer are available online. (Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184, Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169; Maria Sarantopoulou – Tel.: +32 229 13740)

European Commission appoints new Head of Representation in Lisbon

The European Commission has appointed Ms Sofia Colares Alves as the new Head of its Representation in Portugal. She will take up office on 16 July, bringing over twenty years of European and International affairs experience to the post. Ms Alves is an experienced lawyer and works for the European Commission since 2003, specialising in competition policy. She was a member of the Cabinet of former Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (from 2010 to 2013), a Head of Unit in DG Competition (from 2013 until 2015) and since May 2015 was seconded to the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) in Lisbon as Head of Cabinet advising the Board on all areas of competence of the PCA. Ms Sofia Colares Alves obtained a Law Degree from the University of Lisbon and a Master of European Legal Studies (LLM.) from the College of Europe in Bruges. A complete press release for Ms Sofia Colares Alves is available online, also in DE, FR and PT. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Vice-President Dombrovskis visits Japan

Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, will visit Tokyo, Japan on 14 and 15 July. During this visit, he will participate in the 16th EU-Japan Symposium, delivering the opening address on the theme of contemporary social and employment issues. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Mr Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister; and Mr Nobuteru Ishihara, Minister of Economic Revitalisation. Finally, he will meet representatives from the European Business Council. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Siobhan Millbright – Tel.: +32 229 57367)

 

Commissioner Thyssen attends the Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

Labour Ministers will hold an informal meeting on 14 and 15 July 2016 in Bratislava, under the Council Presidency of Slovakia. The Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. Ministers will focus their discussions around three main topics: ageing, digitalisation, and migration. They will discuss how these three key challenges impact Member States’ labour markets and social security systems and exchange experiences and policies to turn these challenges into opportunities for Europe. In this context, Commissioner Thyssen will highlight some of the emerging issues in its consultation on the European pillar of social rights, a key initiative to make social rights in Europe fit for purpose in the 21st century. The meeting will also include a field visit to a Slovak company, which has expanded its production and innovation in times of global competition and digitalisation. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 6225)

 

Commissioner Hogan on official visit to Slovenia

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is today on official visit in Slovenia. Together with Mr Dejan Židan, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food for Slovenia, he visited this morning an educational farm in Poljane. In the afternoon, Commissioner Hogan and the Minister will meet with representatives of the consultative Council for Agriculture. This meeting will be followed by a joint press conference, after which they will visit a cheese dairy farm in Gorenja vas. From 2014-2020, the CAP will invest around €1.8 billion in Slovenia’s farming sector and rural areas. More information about the CAP in Slovenia can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Clemence Robin – Tel.: +32 229 52509)

 

Commissioner Andriukaitis visits Montenegro

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis is visiting Montenegro today and tomorrow (14-15 July). Commissioner Andriukaitis will meet national authorities, including the Deputy-Prime minister and the ministers in charge of Health and Agriculture, with whom he’ll mainly discuss the recent (30 June) opening of the Chapter 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy) of the negotiations of accession. The Commissioner will underline the importance of this Chapter since it deals with the safety of food products, a topic of the highest concern for EU citizens and consumers. He will detail to his interlocutors how they can learn from previous negotiations in this area. On the occasion of the visit he said: “It is of the utmost importance that Montenegro follows as closely as possible its strategy for transposition and implementation of the EU acquis for this Chapter. Montenegro has a major task ahead since this is a very demanding area, but I’ll make sure that all the expertise needed will be pooled to help this country. A step-by-step harmonisation with EU standards will allow Montenegrin products to access the EU markets“. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

 

 

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

* Updated on 14/07/2016 at 14:44, adding “and its innovation community, EIT Raw Materials”

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