Belgium: EUR 600m in EU financing for new trains ordered by SNCB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 600m loan to the SNCB (Société nationale des Chemins de fer Belges – Belgian National Railway Company) to invest in modernising its rolling stock. The new trains will provide comfort, service and safety to rail users across Belgium from September 2018. For the EIB, the operation aims to support and promote rail over road transport and falls under its priority objective of tackling climate change, of which developing sustainable transport is a part.

A EUR 400m loan contract was signed at SNCB headquarters in Brussels. It follows an initial EUR 200m tranche allocated in December 2016. The EIB financing will cover part of the order the SNCB has placed with Bombardier-Alstom for 445 double-decker M7 railcars, which will make it possible to retire old rolling stock while also expanding the SNCB’s services for users. This is a long-term (25-year) loan with favourable conditions, which the EIB – as the EU bank – is able to provide for sound projects supporting EU priorities.

EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom stressed “the importance of SNCB’s investment for its users. A good quality and efficient service, and modern and reliable rolling stock, are key to attracting and keeping customers. Getting on track new trains equipped with state-of-the-art transport technologies that provide more seats and ensure greater comfort and safety, and increasing the frequency of service, will help to boost the use of railways in both Belgium and its neighbours.”

The Vice-President also emphasised that: “Supporting sustainable and innovative transport is one of our top priorities at the EIB, the financial arm of the European Union. And building Europe means concrete engagement in every Member State, fostering development, growth and the improvement of people’s daily lives.”

In concrete terms, customers will be able to travel on the new, comfortable trains offering more seats and equipped with modern safety systems (European Train Control System – ETCS). The SNCB requires 190 000 additional places by 2030, including 105 000 by 2023, mainly to refresh its rolling stock, replace old trains (which are not compatible with ETCS) and add more seats. The new double-decker M7 rolling stock will make a vital contribution to this.

Double-decker trains were chosen mainly because of the limited capacity of the Nord-Midi junction. The order for 445 railcars includes a selection of different rolling stock types (motorised cab cars, multiple units and trailer cars) composing a total of 90 double-decker trains.

In addition, the M7 railcars will be compatible with the existing double-decker M6 cars, making coupling simpler. Another advantage is that, as traction units will be supplied, it will be possible to operate the M7 trains both in a multiple unit configuration and in a traditional configuration with a locomotive and trailer cars. This will improve the operational flexibility of the rolling stock. The railcars will also be fitted-out with all the equipment needed to install modern communication and information systems.

Regulatory information – adjusted fees for applications to EMA from 1 April 2017

31/03/2017

Regulatory information – adjusted fees for applications to EMA from 1 April 2017

Fees adjusted to 2016 inflation rate

General, non-pharmacovigilance fees payable to the European Medicines Agency by applicants and marketing-authorisation holders are increasing by 1.2% on 1 April 2017.

Full details of the new fee levels are available in Commission Regulation (EU) No 2017/612 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 297/95, its implementing rules and the corresponding explanatory note on fees, published today. These documents include the new fees for all types of procedure handled by the Agency, except for pharmacovigilance procedures.

Every year, the Agency adjusts its fees on 1 April, in line with the European Union (EU) inflation rate for the previous year. The current increase reflects the inflation rate for 2016, as published by Eurostat.

All applications received at the Agency by 31 March will be charged at the current fee and reduction rates. Applications received after that date will be charged the adjusted fees. For scientific advice and protocol assistance, the cut-off point will be the date of validation of the request for advice. For annual fees the anniversary date defines the applicable fee and consequently any anniversary on or after 1 April 2017 will attract the new fee.

Fees charged for pharmacovigilance procedures in accordance with Regulation (EU) 658/2014 are expected to be updated from 1 July 2017.

ESMA provides implementing details for SFTR

With these transactions cash or securities are borrowed against collateral composed of securities, commodities or cash – this includes repurchase transactions, securities lending, sell/buy-back transactions and margin lending.

Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said:

“Bringing transparency and oversight into the multi-trillion euro market of securities financing transactions is an important step in closing a regulatory gap. It is pivotal for financial stability that the risks associated with non-bank alternative credit provision are properly addressed.

“The SFTR will provide transparency on the use of securities financing transactions, and will allow identifying risks associated with the collateral and its reuse.”

The SFTR will require both financial and non-financial market participants to report details of their SFTs to an approved EU trade repository (TRs). These details will include the relevant terms of the repo, stock or margin loan, the composition of the collateral, whether the collateral is available for reuse or has been reused, the substitution of collateral at the end of the day and the haircuts applied.

ESMA’s final standards provide detailed provisions on:

  • SFT reporting – including the use of ISO 20022 methodology for reporting, validation and access to data;

  • data collection and availability – the use of standardised identifiers such as LEI, UTI and ISIN which should improve data quality and aggregation across TRs;

  • defined access levels for different public authorities;

  • registration and extension of registration of TRs – detailed requirements on:

  • exchange of data on sanctions between authorities .

ESMA has developed its reporting standards for SFTs building on its experience with the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), and other EU-wide reporting regimes in order to align reporting standards to the maximum extent possible.

In addition to the SFTR, ESMA is proposing certain amendments to the existing standards implementing EMIR. These amendments are to ensure a level-playing field for market participants with regard to registration and access rules.

Next steps

ESMA has sent its final draft technical standards under SFTR and the amended technical standards under EMIR for endorsement to the European Commission, which has three months to decide whether or not to endorse them.

The SFTR implementing measures are expected to enter into force by the end of 2017. Firms would have to start reporting their SFTs to TRs twelve months after the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The reporting obligation itself will be phased-in over nine months.

New report highlights how EU Cohesion Policy improves the investment environment in Europe

A first assessment published today shows that this additional step has a high value, and that the preconditions proved to be a powerful incentive for Member States and regions to carry out reforms which would have otherwise been delayed or not necessarily implemented.

The preconditions for successful investments (or “ex-ante conditionalities“) cover a wide variety of sectors, including compliance with energy efficiency, innovation, digital plans, and education reforms. They were included in the reformed Cohesion Policy to ensure sound and effective spending.

Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Creţu said: “This report shows that the preconditions have improved the framework within which the EU budget operates. By linking the reception of EU funds to the implementation of key structural changes, we have not only contributed to guaranteeing sound public investments. We are also helping to improve quality of life across the EU, while setting the right conditions for growth and job creation, in line with the objectives of President Juncker‘s Investment Plan.”

These preconditions help tackle bottlenecks to investment

Many of them addressed both horizontal and sectorial barriers that hinder investment in the EU. In doing so, they helped deepen the Single Market and deliver the Investment Plan, via its third pillar.

They have for example reinforced institutional set-ups and helped establish transparent procedures in the field of public procurement, or have required Member States to improve and simplify the regulatory and policy environment for small businesses. For example, measures were put in place to reduce the time and cost involved in setting up a business. In Malta, Portugal and Slovenia “SME Tests” were introduced to monitor the impact of national legislation on SMEs.

In the digital sector, the preconditions compelled Member States to set up a pipeline of priority projects, in line with the broadband rollout objectives of the Digital Single Market. This is how the “digital growth” precondition triggered the adoption of a revised digital growth strategy in Greece.

They support structural changes and the implementation of Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs)

These preconditions led to needed legislative changes in many policy areas – education labour market, health or social inclusion to name but a few.

In Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, maps of healthcare infrastructure developed to fulfil the “health” sector precondition addressed different CSRs on cost effectiveness of spending, accessibility and the overall efficiency of the healthcare sector.

They accelerate the transposition of EU acquis

In the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, the fulfilment of the “energy efficiency” precondition gave a significant push to the swift transposition of the Energy Efficiency and Buildings Directives. In a number of Member States, like in Hungary, the “water” sector condition prompted the authorities to apply water pricing policies to the agricultural sector, providing an incentive to farmers to use water resources more efficiently.

They help better target support from the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds and other public funding.

Many preconditions required that support from EU Funds should form part of strategic investment frameworks. Designed to meet certain quality criteria, based on needs analysis and including measures to attract private investments, these frameworks encompassing EU, national and regional funding resulted in better coordinated and prioritised public spending overall.

In Portugal, the “Research and innovation (R&I)” precondition required the adoption of national and regional smart specialisation strategies. This helped to focus the public funding in R&I on a limited number of key competitive areas and to identify opportunities for partnerships between academia and innovative businesses.

They strengthen administrative capacity and communication between all levels of governance

An efficient public administration is key to the success of EU and public investments. When preconditions specifically required the reinforcement and reform of administrations, the very process of fulfilling them resulted in improved coordination and communication between ministries, agencies, regional and local authorities and other stakeholders.

In the French region of Auvergne, in the framework of the “R&I” precondition, local authorities, civil society and local businesses were together involved, for the first time, in the layout of a regional innovation strategy.

Next steps

The report shows that there are margins for improvement – should the preconditions become more tailored to the needs of Member States and regions? How can we ensure their fulfilment throughout the whole financial period? These are key issues that will fuel the discussion on the post-2020 Cohesion Policy.

Background

Introducing preconditions for successful investments was one of the key novelties of the Reformed Cohesion Policy (see MEMO/13/1011).

Today, 86% of these preconditions is fulfilled by all Member States. Member States have until the summer of 2017 to report on the fulfilment of the outstanding preconditions.

More information

Staff Working Document – the Value added of Ex-ante conditionalities in the European Structural and Investment Funds

Ex-ante conditionality – definition on the Inforegio website

Cohesion Open Data Platform

CALENDRIER du 03 avril au 09 avril 2017

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)

Déplacements et visites

 

Lundi 03 avril 2017

Foreign Affairs Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

03-04/04 Informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers

03-06/04 European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg

President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg, France (until 05/04): receives Mr Manfred Weber, Chairman of the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament (EPP Group).

Mr Andrus Ansip in Luxembourg: meets Mr Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg,Minister of State, Minister for Communications and the Media, Minister for Religious Affairs, Minister for Culture; exchanges views with deputies at the Chamber of Deputies; and participates in the “Data-driven Public Administration and Digital Pole” conference.

Mr Maroš Šefčovič in New York, the United States (until 04/04): participates in the “Sustainable Energy for All Forum” – delivers a keynote speech at the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy session; attends a roundtable discussion on the transformation of energy and transport systems; meets Mr Michael Bloomberg, Co-chair of the board of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy; and Ms Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Mr Jyrki Katainen delivers a speech at a conference of German regional officials, hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union, in Brussels.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete in Tel Aviv, Israel: holds the ministerial EastMed Energy Summit with Energy Ministers from Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Italy to discuss the potential of gas from the eastern Mediterranean region for Europe.

Mr Karmenu Vella in Monaco: participates in  the 8th edition of the “Monaco Blue Initiative” event on “Ocean management and conservation” co-organised by the Monaco Oceanographic Institute, the Foundation Albert I, the Prince of Monaco, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation; participates in the signing ceremony of the seat agreement of the Pelagos sanctuary established by France, Italy and Monaco; and meets Mr Serge Telle, Minister of State of Monaco.

Ms Marianne Thyssen in Malta: attends the Informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers (EPSCO).

M. Pierre Moscovici à Paris, France: rencontre M. François Hollande, Président de la République française.

Ms Violeta Bulc and Mr Carlos Moedas deliver a the opening keynote speeches at the first European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving “Together Shaping the Future”, in Brussels.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Michaël Gillon, Research Associate, Belgian Funds for Scientific Research, Institute for Astrophysics and Geophysics, University of Liège, Belgium.

Mr Carlos Moedas receives Mr Joăo Figueiredo, Member of the European Court of Auditors.

Mr Julian King delivers opening remarks at the High-Level Seminar on Security Union: State of Play and Future Perspectives organised by the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), in Brussels.

Mardi 04 avril 2017

College meeting

President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg, France: receives Mr Gianni Pittella, President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group); attends the European Parliament plenary session for the speech of Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany; receives Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany; and Mr Victor Boştinaru, Vice-President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group).

Ms Federica Mogherini hosts the “Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region“, in Brussels.

Mr Andrus Ansip in Strasbourg, France: delivers a speech at a working breakfast on copyrights organised by European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).

Mr Maroš Šefčovič in New York, the United States: attends a panel debate on “EU Global Leadership” at Columbia University; and meets representatives of the European-American Chamber of Commerce.             

Mr Johannes Hahn participates in the”Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region“; and addresses the thematic session: “Supporting the resilience of the host countries and refugees in the context of the Syria crisis”, in Brussels.

Mr Johannes Hahn meets Mr Imad N. Fakhoury, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan and Chairperson for Economic Development Cabinet Committee, in Brussels.

Mr Christos Stylianides participates in the “Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region“; and addresses the thematic session: “Humanitarian situation inside Syria: needs, challenges and way forward”, in Brussels.

Ms Violeta Bulc receives Ms Ana Miranda, former Member of the European Parliament and current spokesperson of the Spanish political party BNG.

Mr Carlos Moedas attends a working dinner with the High-Level Group on maximising the impact of EU research and innovation programmes.

 

Mercredi 05 avril 2017

President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg, France:addresses the plenary of the European Parliament on the triggering of Article 50 by the United Kingdom.

Ms Federica Mogherini hosts the “Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region“, in Brussels.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis in Berlin, Germany (until 06/04): meets Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, Minister for Finance of Germany; Ms Andrea Nahles, Minister for Labour and Social Affairs of Germany; and Mr Reiner Hoffmann, President of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB).

Mr Günther H. Oettinger in Berlin, Germany: delivers a keynote speech during a meeting of the Committee on EU Affairs at the German Bundesrat on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and financial implications.

Mr Johannes Hahn participates in the “Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, in Brussels.

Mr Christos Stylianides participates in the “Brussels Conference Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, in Brussels.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in the United States (until 06/04): in Denver: delivers a keynote speech at the 33rd Space Symposium; meets Mr Robert Richards, Co-founder and CEO of Moon Express (space transportation and lunar resources company); Mr Mark Sirangelo, Corporate Vice-President of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems; Mr Jeffrey Manber, CEO of Nanoracks – The Operating System of Space; and Mr Buzz Aldrin, astronaut, member of Apollo 11 mission, second man on the Moon.

Mr Tibor Navracsics in Helsinki, Finland: delivers a speech at the 41st Ordinary UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Congress; and meets Mr Aleksander Čeferin, President of UEFA.

Ms Corina Creţu in Greece (until 07/04): in Athens: attends a meeting with members of the European Affairs Committee and the Special Permanent Committee of the Regions of the Greek Parliament; meets Mr Georgios Stathakis, Minister for  Energy and Environment of Greece; Mr Sokrates Famelos, Alternate Minister for Energy and Environment; Mr Alexis Charitsis,  Alternate Minister for Economy and Development; and participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue.

Ms Margarethe Vestager attends the 3rd meeting of the High-Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes chaired by Mr Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute.

Mr Carlos Moedas hosts the 3rd meeting of the High-Level Group on maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes chaired by Mr Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute.

Mr Julian King in Dublin, Ireland (until 6/04): delivers a speech at the Institute of International and European Affairs.

 

Jeudi 06 avril 2017

Informal meeting of ministers responsible for competitiveness (internal market and industry)

President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Ms Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation.

President Jean-Claude Juncker holds a joint press point with Ms Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation, in Brussels.

Ms Federica Mogherini receives Mr Mankeur Ndiaye, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal and Senegalese Abroad.

Mr Andrus Ansip receives Mr Paul-Bernhard Kallen, CEO of Hubert Burda Media; Mr Jean-Paul Schmetz, Founder and Managing Director of Cliqz; and Mr Marc Al-Hames, Managing Director of Cliqz.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis in Berlin, Germany: delivers a keynote speech and participates in a panel discussion at the “21st German Banking Congress 2017“.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis in Malta (until 07/04): delivers a speech at the Eurofi High-Level Seminar 2017 on “Economic and financial perspectives in the world economy and the EU”; meets Mr Jean Lemierre, Director and Chairman of BNP Paribas Group; and Mr Jean-Jacques Santini, Head of Group Public and Regulatory Affairs, BNP Paribas.

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives Mr Tuomas Hallenberg, Chairman of the Finnish/Suomen Hunters Association (Suomen Metsästäjäliitto).

Mr Jyrki Katainen receives Mr Henrik Henriksson, President and CEO of Scania.

Mr Günther H. Oettinger opens the 21st SCIC–Universities conference “Interpretation: Building Capacities for a Changing World“; and participates in and presents the awards at the 10th Award ceremony of the ‘Juvenes Translatores’.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives Mr Roberto Vavassori, President of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA).

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives representatives of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos receives Mr Mankeur Ndiaye, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal and Senegalese Abroad.

Mr Phil Hogan in Italy (until 09/04): in Lucca, delivers a speech at the 3rd Italian Regional Conference of Agriculture and Regional Development.

Ms Vĕra Jourová delivers a speech at the event Od Tatier k Schumanu, organised on the initiative of the Slovak and Czech communities, in Brussels.

Mr Tibor Navracsics meets Mr Wolfgang Hermann, President of the Technical University of Munich, in Brussels.

Mr Tibor Navracsics delivers the opening speech at the “7th University Business Forum” organised by the European Commission, in Brussels.

Ms Corina Creţu in Thessaloniki, Greece: visits the EU founded project “Concession motorway Aegean Road – Tempi Tunnel”; and the EU-funded information technology SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) “Agrostis”.

Mr Carlos Moedas in Malta: delivers a keynote speech on Start-ups and Scale-ups at the Informal meeting of ministers responsible for competitiveness; and participates in a roundtable discussion on scaling-up of innovation SMEs at the Informal meeting of ministers responsible for competitiveness.

Vendredi 07 avril 2017

07-08/04 Informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers

Ms Federica Mogherini receives Mr Johannes Ebert, Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut.

Mr Andrus Ansip in Düsseldorf, Germany: participates in the Meeting of G20 ministers in charge of digitalisation.

Ms Cecilia Malmström in Warsaw, Poland: participates in a Citizens’ Dialoguetogether with Mr Tadeusz Kościński,  Undersecretary of State in the Ministry for Economic Development of Poland, on the new economic opportunities for Poland and the EU at the “CETA Forum”; meets for a working lunch Mr Tadeusz Kościński; Mr Jerzy Kwieciński, Secretary of State in the Ministry for Economic Development of Poland; and members from the parliamentary committee on EU Affairs and the subcommittee on the trade negotiations between EU and the US; and visits the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Mr Neven Mimica in Zagreb, Croatia: delivers a speech about the “White Paper on the Future of Europe” in the Croatian Parliament.

Mr Miguel Arias Cañete in Madrid, Spain:meets Mr Fernando Becker, Spain Corporate Director at Iberdrola; Mr Gonzalo Bernal, CEO of Light Environment Control SL; and Mr Miguel Ángel Martínez-Arcoa, President of the Spanish National Association of Photovoltaic Energy Producers (ANPIER).

Mr Karmenu Vella together with Mr Carlos Moedas participate in the signing ceremony of the innovation deal “Sustainable waste water treatment combining Anaerobic Membrane Technology (ANMBT) and Water Reuse”, in Brussels.

Mr Phil Hogan in Florence, Italy: delivers a keynote speech and hands over the award “Prosperitati publicae augendae” at the opening ceremony of the 2017 academic year of the Academia dei Georgofili.

Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Orlando, the United States: visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; and meets Mr Bob Cabana, Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.

Ms Vĕra Jourová meets Mr Pavel Zeman, Supreme Public Prosecutor of the Czech Republic, in Brussels.

Ms Corina Creţu in Thessaloniki, Ptolemaida and Vergina, Greece: visits two EU-funded projects: “Urban regeneration Waterfront of Thessaloniki”; and “Integrated Solid Waste management Plant – PPP”; and visits the EU-funded Vergina Museum.

Ms Margrethe Vestager in Copenhagen, Denmark: meets members of the liberal party group Venstre; and Ms Pia Olsen Dyhr, Chairwoman of the Socialist People’s Party of Denmark, on current European issues.

 

Samedi 08 avril 2017

Ms Federica Mogherini in Algiers, Algeria (until 09/04): on official visit.

Mr Phil Hogan in Verona, Italy: delivers a speech at “OperaWine” event; and attends a ceremony on the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome including a signature of the Framework Agreement on Guarantee Platform, together with Mr Maurizio Martina, Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry of Italy.

 

Dimanche 09 avril 2017

Ms Federica Mogherini in Algiers, Algeria: on official visit.

Mr Phil Hogan in Verona, Italy: attends the inauguration event of the wine exhibition Vinitaly.

Prévisions du mois d’avril:

03/04 Foreign Affairs Council

03/04 Agriculture and Fisheries Council

03-04/04 Informal meeting of employment, social policy and health ministers

03-06/04 European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg

06/04 Informal meeting of ministers responsible for competitiveness (internal market and industry)

07-08/04 Informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers

25/04 General Affairs Council

25-26/04 Informal meeting of environment ministers

26-27/04 Informal meeting of defence ministers

26-27/04 European Parliament plenary session in Brussels

28-29/04 Informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers

29/04 European Council

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 01 au 02 avril 2017:

Mina ANDREEVA: +32 (0)498 99 13 82

Permanence RAPID – GSM: +32 (0) 498 982 748

Service Audiovisuel, planning studio – tél. : +32 (0)2/295 21 23

Statement by Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides on protecting civilians inside Mosul, Iraq

Ensuring that civilians inside Mosul are protected during the conflict is the single most effective life-saving action that can be taken.

A few weeks ago I was in Iraq myself, visiting the conflict areas and seeing how our humanitarian aid can best help those in need. I was heartened to meet the brave doctors and medical staff working countless hours to treat the injured. I received reassurances from the Iraqi authorities that they would continue to protect and assist their citizens.

Unfortunately, Da’esh continue to disregard human life, using innocent people as human shields, positioning snipers and fighters on the rooftops of houses occupied by civilians, and deliberately targeting those aiming to flee areas still under their control. However, in spite of these war crimes and despite the enormous challenges of conducting this battle in such a densely populated urban setting, the protection of civilians couldn’t be more crucial. Indeed these complicating factors should only enhance the determination of Iraqi forces to continue putting the safety and dignity of civilians first.

We must preserve humanity during conflict. A conflict in which civilians aren’t adequately protected is a conflict that comes back. Therefore, ensuring the principles of precaution and proportionality in military action is paramount. Concretely what is needed are safe evacuation routes, capacity to extract the injured and lifesaving aid to reach civilians trapped by the conflict.

To help, the European Union is leading international humanitarian efforts and giving priority to medical response. We are funding trauma care facilities and also providing emergency supplies such as food, water and healthcare.

The EU remains fully committed to supporting the Iraqi people and the authorities at this time. Together, we must ensure that every effort is made so civilians are protected in the first place.

Background

On 7 March Commissioner Stylianides announced €42.5 million in initial humanitarian aid for the crisis in Iraq. This comes on top of over €159 million in humanitarian assistance that the European Commission has already made available in 2016 and the delivery of 266 tons of aid offered by countries through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in response to Mosul emergency. EU aid is covering the essential needs of the most vulnerable in Iraq, including food, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as protection, shelter and education in emergencies.

For more information:

Press Release: EU announces €42.5 million in humanitarian assistance for Iraq

Video Commissioner Stylianides’ statement on protecting civilians inside Mosul, Iraq

Daily News 31 / 03 / 2017

President Juncker’s speech at the 2017 EPP Congress in Malta: “The time has come for convinced Europeans to stand up for Europe”

President Juncker yesterday delivered a speech at the 2017 EPP Congress in Malta focusing on the European Union’s achievements in the last 60 years and looking ahead towards its future: “We have had peace for 60 years, a peace which is not relative but comprehensive.” Following the triggering of Article 50 by the United Kingdom, President Juncker highlighted the need to look forward:“Brexit is not the end of everything (…) we have to make it the beginning of something that will be new, stronger and better”. The European Union project must now continue with “the completion of the internal market, with the deepening of the European Economic and Monetary Union […] We must also continue in the social matters”, President Juncker stated. The full speech in the original languages is available here. (For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456)

Discours du Président Juncker au 4ème Forum des Régions ultrapériphériques

Le Président Juncker,  s’adressant aujourd’hui au  4ème Forum des régions ultrapériphériques, a tout d’abord adressé un message aux Guyanais. “Je voudrais, a-t- il-dit, “adresser un message de sympathie tout particulier à nos amis en Guyane qui traversent des heures difficiles et je voulais leur dire que toute ma sympathie est de leur côté“. Le Président Juncker a rappelé que ce 4ème Forum revêt une importance particulière alors que la Commission va présenter dans quelques mois une stratégie renouvelée pour les régions ultrapériphériques qui,  a-t-il souligné, tout en étant éloignées de nous par la distance géographique (…)  ne le sont pas par le cœur”.  Cette nouvelle stratégie qui prendra en  compte les récentes évolutions économiques et les attentes des citoyens  vise à  utiliser au mieux les différentes politiques européennes, et en premier lieu la politique de cohésion, pour aider les régions ultrapériphériques à surmonter leurs contraintes, notamment géographiques et  climatiques, et à exploiter pleinement leurs nombreux atouts, y compris une remarquable biodiversité. « Cette diversité bio et autre  fait votre richesse », a-t-il dit  avant de conclure son discours, en soulignant le soutien continu de la Commission à ces régions dont, a-t-il rappelé « je dis que vous êtes les parties nobles de l’Europe » et il a annoncé qu’il s’y rendra d’ici la fin de son mandat. Le discours entier est disponible en ligne. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tél.: +32 229 56169)

Un nouveau rapport met en évidence la manière dont la politique de Cohésion améliore le climat d’investissement en Europe

L’introduction de conditions préalables pour que les Etats-membres puissent recevoir les Fonds structurels et d’investissement européens est l’un des éléments principaux de la réforme de la politique de Cohésion pour 2014-2020. Une première évaluation publiée aujourd’hui souligne toute la valeur ajoutée de cette nouveauté, en montrant que ces conditions ont incité États membres et régions à accomplir des réformes qui auraient autrement été retardées, voire non nécessairement mises en œuvre. Ces conditions préalables (appelées “conditions ex-ante“) couvrent un large éventail de secteurs, comme le respect des directives sur l’efficacité énergétique, les stratégies d’innovation, des plans de déploiement du haut débit ou encore des réformes du système éducatif. Elles ont été intégrées à la politique de Cohésion pour assurer l’efficacité des investissements. La Commissaire régionale à la politique, Corina Creţu, a déclaré: “Ce rapport montre que les conditions préalables ont amélioré le cadre dans lequel opère le budget de l’UE. En liant la réception des fonds européens à la mise en œuvre de réformes structurelles clés, nous n’avons pas seulement contribué à garantir des investissements publics sains; nous contribuons également à améliorer la qualité de vie dans l’UE, tout en créant les conditions propices à la croissance et à la création d’emplois, conformément aux objectifs du Plan d’investissement du Président Juncker.” Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

European Commission secures 10-year pledge to save fish stocks and protect employment in the Mediterranean

The European Commission reached yesterday an important milestone in its objective to save the Mediterranean fish stock and protect the region’s ecological and economic wealth. Months of negotiations at ministerial level culminated in the signature of the Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration, which sets out a detailed work programme for the next 10 years, based on ambitious but realistic targets. This Declaration, signed by the European Commission, 8 Member States of the EU (Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus) and 7 third countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro) – 80% of the total Mediterranean fleet – is a great success and a sign of political ownership. It is also another contribution by the EU to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Commissioner for Environment, Fishers and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella, said on the occasion: “Today we are making history. In signing the Malta MedFish4Ever Declaration, we are affirming our political will to deliver tangible action: on fisheries and other activities that have an impact on fisheries resources, on the blue economy, on social inclusion, and on solidarity between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. I hope that this declaration will come to be seen as a turning point – for a bright future for fishermen, coastal communities and fishing resources alike.” Commitments made by the signatories include adequate data collection and scientific assessment of the fish stock, multi-annual management plans for all key fisheries, elimination of illegal fishing by 2020 by ensuring a legal framework, as well as control and inspection capacities in the States, and support sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture by streamlining funding schemes for local projects. The declaration and a full press release are online. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321)

 

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: steady progress and new projects for education and health launched

Today, the sixth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey is taking place in Brussels to report on the progress made to date. Gathering together the European Commission (chairing), EU Member State representatives, and representatives of Turkey, participants will discuss about the latest projects adopted that will support education of Syrian youth and will focus on protection and access to health. A press release and a factsheet with the outcome of the meeting will be online at approximately 13:00. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

 

State aid: Commission approves amendments to Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

The European Commission has approved amendments to the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme as in line with EU state aid rules. The United Kingdom notified these amendments to the Commission in March 2017. They introduce a ‘tiered’ tariff system, whereby medium-sized biomass operators will move to a lower fixed tariff after a set number of operating hours. They also introduce an overall cap on the number of operating hours for which these beneficiaries can receive support in any given year. The Northern Irish authorities will also conduct a full review of the scheme with a view to assessing compliance in practice with the scheme rules and objectives. In the meantime, the amended scheme will remain in place until 31 March 2018. The United Kingdom initially introduced the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive in 2012, having obtained approval by the Commission under EU state aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decisions will be published in the state aid register on the competition website under the case number SA.47501. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

 

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition de Cerba Healthcare par Partner Group AG

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l’acquisition de Cerba Healthcare, entreprise basée en France, par Partner Group AG, basée en Suisse. Cerba Healthcare est un laboratoire de biologie médicale. Partners Group AG est une société de gestion d’investissements dans des sociétés non cotées. La Commission a conclu que l’opération envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème concurrentiel dans la mesure où les deux entreprises ne sont pas actives sur le même marché ou sur des marchés complémentaires. L’opération a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrencede la Commission, dans le registre publicdes affaires sous le numéro d’affaire M.8397. (Pour plus d’informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni – Tel.: +32 229 90526)

Eurostat: Estimation rapide – mars 2017 – Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro en baisse à 1,5%

Le taux d’inflation annuel de la zone euro est estimé à 1,5% en mars 2017, contre 2,0% en février 2017, selon une estimation rapide publiée par Eurostat, l’office statistique de l’Union européenne. S’agissant des principales composantes de l’inflation de la zone euro, l’énergie devrait connaître le taux annuel le plus élevé en mars (7,3%, comparé à 9,3% en février), suivie de l’alimentation, alcool & tabac (1,8%, comparé à 2,5% en février), des services (1,0%, comparé à 1,3% en février) et des biens industriels non énergétiques (0,2%, stable comparé à février). Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

STATEMENTS

Statement by Commissioner Stylianides on protecting civilians inside Mosul, Iraq

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides has issued a statement on the need to protect civilians during the conflict in Mosul, Iraq. “A few weeks ago I was in Iraq, visiting the conflict areas and seeing how our humanitarian aid can best help those in need.(…) Despite Da’esh war crimes and despite the enormous challenges of conducting this battle in such a densely populated urban setting, the protection of civilians couldn’t be more crucial.(…) We must preserve humanity during conflict. (…) Concretely what is needed are safe evacuation routes, capacity to extract the injured and lifesaving aid to reach civilians. To help, the European Union is leading international humanitarian efforts and giving priority to medical response. We are funding trauma care facilities and also providing emergency supplies such as food, water and healthcare”.Read the full statement here and watch Commissioner Stylianides’ video statement here. Photos of his recent mission to Iraq are also available here. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

First European conference on Connected and Automated Driving technologies on 3 and 4 April in Brussels

The European Commission is strongly committed to support connected and automated driving (CAD) technologies in Europe and will host on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels its first dedicated conference. Significant progress has been made in CAD technologies such as advanced vehicle control and vehicle localisation systems and the European Commission acknowledges their potential positive impact on road safety and driving efficiency. This conference will be a unique opportunity for major road transport stakeholders and EU high-level representatives to discuss on how to boost the development and deployment of such technologies by focusing on transport policy issues, technological challenges, legal and regulatory frame, and digital transformation. Commissioners Violeta Bulc, in charge of Transport, and Carlos Moedas, in charge of Research, Science and Innovation, will give opening speeches from 9:15 on Monday. You can find the full programme here and more information here. You can also follow the plenary sessions via Web streaming online. (For more information: Lucia Caudet – Tel.: + 32 229 56182; Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 6914)

Commissioner Arias Cañete in Israel for EastMed Energy Summit

Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will travel to Tel Aviv Monday 3 April to discuss the potential of gas from the eastern Mediterranean region for Europe. The ministerial EastMed Energy Summit will be held by Commissioner Arias Cañete and the Energy Ministers from Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Italy. The Commissioner and Ministers will discuss East Med developments in the energy sector and options for meeting the needs of the Israeli and European gas markets. Commissioner Arias Cañete said: “In the next decades gas flows from the eastern Mediterranean region will play a vital role in the energy security of the European Union. The Commission strongly supports the construction of the necessary energy infrastructure and developing a competitive and liquid gas market in the region”. The East Mediterranean gas findings could play an important role in helping both producing and neighbouring countries to address their energy security problems. They could also have a growing role in the EU’s diversification strategy. In this context the EastMed Gas Pipeline is one of the possible future infrastructure options to bring gas reserves of the East Med region to Europe and other international markets. The ending of energy islands and diversification of EU gas supplies is an important objective of this Juncker Commission as laid down in the Energy Union Strategy. As part of this, the EU is working with countries in north Africa, the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean to open up new routes that can bring gas to Europe. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)

Calendar

The Commissioners’ weekly activities

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

EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: steady progress and new projects for education and health launched

Today, the sixth Steering Committee meeting of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey took place in Brussels to report on the progress made to date. They discussed the latest projects to support refugees, in particular the recently launched €34 million Conditional Cash Transfer for Education project with UNICEF and a €5 million contract with the NGO Spark which will increase participation and equal access to higher education of vulnerable Syrian youth. Furthermore, seven new humanitarian projects worth €41.6 million* have also been launched focusing on protection and access to health.

So far out of the overall €3 billion allocated to the Facility, more than half has already been contracted in less than a year. Contracts have been signed for 46 projects in total worth over €1.5 billion, out of which €777 million has been disbursed so far to support refugees.

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “The European Union continues to be a pillar of support for the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Turkey, providing them with essential services such as access to education and health care. This equips them with the necessary tools to play an active role in Turkey’s society and demonstrates our full commitment in helping refugees and their host communities in Turkey.

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “Our humanitarian aid programmes are showing encouraging results. As of March more than 400 000 refugees have now benefitted from the EU’s flagship cash assistance programme. We will continue this joint effort with our Turkish partners, and the humanitarian agencies, so that more refugee families in Turkey can receive protection and assistance in order to meet their basic needs”

Today’s meeting brought together the European Commission, EU Member States representatives, and representatives of Turkey. The European Commission chaired the meeting and participants welcomed the solid progress made to date.

Steady progress in implementation

Through humanitarian assistance, a €34 million contract was recently signed with UNICEF on Conditional Cash Transfer for Education. This project will build on the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme, providing families with targeted cash transfers to encourage school enrolment and attendance of the most vulnerable refugee children. In addition, four projects have been signed with a total value of €25 million that will focus on primary health care services and the provision of specialised services. Three projects have also been signed for a total value of €16.65 million that will focus on the protection needs of vulnerable refugees.

Under the longer term assistance, a €5 million education contract has been signed with the NGO Spark. It will be implemented by the EU Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis and will provide 484 Syrian students with full scholarships on Bachelor level, including transport and subsistence allowance.

Background

The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up in 2015 in response to the European Council’s call for significant additional funding to support refugees in Turkey.

It has a budget of €3 billion for 2016-2017. This is made up of €1 billion from the EU budget, and €2 billion from the EU Member States. All Member States have sent in their contribution certificates for the €2 billion they pledged.

So far, 46 projects have been contracted for more than €1.5 billion, out of which €777 million has been disbursed. The total allocated for implementation under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey on humanitarian and non-humanitarian actions now stands at €2.2 billion.

The Facility provides a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The support seeks to improve conditions for refugees in Turkey as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to addressing the refugee crisis inside and outside the EU. The first annual report on the Facility was published on 2 March 2017.

For more information:

EU-Turkey Cooperation: A €3 billion Refugee Facility for Turkey

FACTSHEET: The EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey

FACTSHEET: Turkey: Refugee crisis

The EU-Turkey Statement – One Year On

Implementing the EU-Turkey Statement – Questions and Answers

First Annual Report for the Facility for Refugees in Turkey

Facility for Refugees in Turkey – Commission Reports on Progress in Fifth Steering Committee

* Figure updated at 15h50.

EESC asks European youth: EU@60: Where to next?

EESC asks European youth: EU@60: Where to next? during Your Europe, Your Say! 2017

“You are our present and future, and Europe needs you”: with these words, EESC Vice-President Gonçalo Lobo Xavier welcomed 99 young people to the yearly Your Europe, Your Say! event organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The Vice-President encouraged them to use this “unique chance” to mingle with their European peers, apply their foreign language skills, learn about each other and make new friends that can change their lives and perceptions about this magnificent project called European Union.

On 30-31 March, the EESC is holding its annual youth event Your Europe – Your Say!, and on this 60th anniversary of the European Union and of the European Economic and Social Committee itself, the EESC is asking these young people: “EU@60: Where to next?”. From over 680 applications, 33 schools were selected, each sending three pupils and a teacher to Brussels to discuss the future of Europe, indeed their own future, from a teenager’s perspective.

President Georges Dassis said in his opening speech that since the financial crisis – “which did not even have its origin in Europe, but in the US” – the image of the EU project had been somewhat tarnished. “Europe has lost its shine. One of the reasons is that people sometimes have the impression that this Europe only belongs to big industries and banks, but Europe belongs first and foremost to European citizens.” Recalling his own youth and how he had to go to work at the age of 12 – as many of his generation did -, he also reminded young people to take up their responsibility: “From the seventies on, we have experienced steadily growing prosperity. But things that you today take for granted did not fall from the sky. Older generations –your parents and grandparents– have built Europe’s prosperity, often at the cost of great sacrifices.  Now it is your task to ensure that this Europe stays a continent of welfare and peace and it’s also your task to react and stand up against populists who want to demolish our Europe.”

In welcoming the young people, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen referred to this week’s final Brexit decision: “It is a sad moment when one member of a community leaves, but we must also see this as an opportunity to create a new EU with 27 countries and possibly other countries joining us in the future.” Referring to the Your Europe, Your Say! discussions today, he encouraged the young people to talk about the Europe they want and keep in mind that “the logic behind the EU is that so many global challenges, such as security, climate change or migration, cannot be tackled by one single member states but need the combined forces of 27 states.”

During this one and a half day event, the young people are working together in break-out groups and plenary sessions to trace their course for the future of Europe and work out proposals on how to achieve their goals. At the end, they will vote and the three most voted proposals will be sent to the Commission, which, Mr Katainen, stressed, is keen to hear their feedback on the five scenarios for the future of Europe set out in Juncker’s White Paper.

There is also some leisure time left for the youngsters to socialise, have fun together and be exposed to the different cultures they represent.

The EESC is organising this event for the 8th consecutive time and the ever growing number of applications as well as young people’s enthusiastic participation confirm that there is a need for events like Your Europe, Your Say! in order to give young people a platform where they can make their voice heard.

More info on Your Europe, Your Say! is available on the EESC webpage.

MiFID II: ESMA issues final specifications for non-equity tape

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) introduces the concept of consolidated tape providers (CTPs). CTPs will collect post-trade information published by trading venues and approved publication arrangements (APAs) and will consolidate them into a continuous live data stream and make the data available to the public, both for equity and non-equity products.

ESMA’s RTS specify

  • the possibility for CT providers to specialise in one or some asset classes; and
  • the APAs and trading venues that have to be included in the CT based on a coverage ratio of 80% of all transactions published in an asset class in the EU that the CTP has to meet. 

ESMA already submitted in September 2015 draft regulatory technical standards (RTS 13 on the authorisation, organisational requirements and the publication of transactions for data reporting services providers) specifying the scope of the equity tape that have been endorsed by the Commission on 2 June 2016.

Given the higher complexity for establishing and operating a non-equity tape and bearing in mind that the provisions on the non-equity tape of Article 65(2) of MiFID II will only apply from September 2019, ESMA decided to deliver the draft RTS specifying the scope of the non-equity tape at a later stage. The proposed draft RTS amend RTS 13 on the authorisation, organisational requirements and the publication of transactions for data reporting services providers by adding a new Article specifying the scope of the non-equity tape.

ESMA has sent the RTS for endorsement to the European Commission, which has three months to decide whether or not to do so.