Daily News of 2014-06-05

EXME 14 / 05.06


05 / 06 / 14

Brussels G7 Summit continues with talks on global economy, trade, energy and development

On the second day of the Brussels G7 Summit leaders are continuing their discussions on the global economy, trade, energy, climate change and development. Last night, the G7 leaders issued a joint communiqué following their working dinner, which reflects the G7 position on major foreign policy issues, including Ukraine. Read the full text of the G7 leaders’ communiqué online.

Later today at around 14:15 (exact time to be confirmed), Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy will hold a joint closing press conference in the press room of the Justus Lipsius building ( watch it live on EBS).

For all relevant information on the role and actions of the EU at the G7, including President Barroso’s remarks at yesterday’s pre-summit press briefing, please visit the dedicated G7/G8 section of President Barroso’s website.

Other news

President Barroso calls on world leaders to reverse education funding decline

President Barroso signed an ‘Open letter’ calling for a greater commitment to global financing for education, particularly for girls. The letter is also signed by Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, as well as Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg and Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia, ahead of the Global Partnership for Education conference on June 26 in Brussels, when the GPE and the European Commission will bring together leaders in education, representatives of governments, international finance, philanthropy and civil society for its second Replenishment Conference .

April 2014 compared with March 2014: Volume of retail trade up by 0.4% in euro area, up by 0.6% in EU28

In April 2014 compared with March 2014, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade rose by 0.4% in the euro area (EA18) and by 0.6% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In March retail trade increased by 0.1% in both zones. In April 2014 compared with April 2013 the retail sales index increased by 2.4% in the euro area and by 3.4% in the EU28.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of joint control over MMC Superalloy by Hitachi Metals and Mitsubishi Materials

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over MMC Superalloy Corporation by Hitachi Metals and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, all of Japan. MMC Superalloy is currently a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Materials, specialising in the manufacture of super alloys of non-ferrous metals used in a range of sectors, including the aerospace industry. Super alloys are alloys that exhibit excellent mechanical strength and resistance to creep at high temperature. Hitachi Metals manufactures high-functional materials for use in the electronics and automotive industries, for instance in engines and exhaust systems. High-functional materials represent high grade components and play an important role in enhancing the functionality and performance of a product. Mitsubishi Materials is a publicly listed company operating in cement, metals, advanced materials and tools, electronic materials and components, energy, and recycling. MMC Superalloy has some limited activities in the EEA. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns given the parties’ moderate combined market position resulting from the proposed transaction. The transaction was examined under the simplified review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7212 .

€30 million for the Philippines: Commissioner Georgieva returns to Tacloban

The European Commission is giving an additional €30 million to the Philippine Government in a further boost to the European Union’s reconstruction assistance in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. EU-funded humanitarian actions have already greatly contributed to meeting the emergency needs of the survivors of the world’s most destructive typhoon ever recorded to have made landfall. But the road to reconstruction is still long. The new funding comes from the European Commission’s development budget. It is aimed at supporting post-Yolanda/Haiyan reconstruction through the availability of essential medicines, improved quality of health services, and support to the post-typhoon reconstruction plan of the Philippines’s government. Particular attention is being given to the impact of the disaster on the poor and the most vulnerable members of the local population.

Venice Biennale hosts ‘Made in Europe’ architecture expo

An exhibition featuring the finalists of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture / Mies van der Rohe Award over the past 25 years will be on display for the first time during the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia). The ‘Made in Europe’ exhibition, which includes 150 models of the prize-winning projects and audiovisual content, will open with a seminar on 6 June in the presence of world-renowned architects Dominique Perrault, Vittorio Gregotti, Iñaki Ábalos and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. The exhibition, which takes place at the Palazzo Michiel , runs until 4 August.

Sweden at head of pack on digital research funding

While Sweden may be a global leader in R&D investment, the EU as a whole is still lagging behind the Japan and the US: new data shows that 6.6% of the total R&D government support is invested in ICT in the EU, compared to 9.1% in Japan and 7.9% in the US. Figures from the Digital Scorecard show that more efforts are necessary to meet the goal set by the Digital Agenda for Europe : to reach €11 billion of annual total public spending on ICT R&D by 2020. Vice-President of the European Commission @NeelieKroesEU , responsible for the Digital Agenda , says: “Public funding in digital research and development is behind many of the great technologies we take for granted. Helping researchers develop their best ideas translates into new products and services, and into jobs. Over the next seven years, through Horizon 2020 we will invest €13 billion in ICT. I encourage Member States to step up their efforts to secure our jobs of the future”.

EU fully committed to protecting persons with disabilities, says Commission report on UN Convention

The European Commission published today its first report on how the EU is giving effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This Convention is the first international legally binding instrument setting minimum standards for a range of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights for people with disabilities around the world. It is also the first comprehensive human rights convention to which the EU has become a party ( IP/11/4). The report shows that the ratification of the Convention by the EU has tangible impacts on the ground and gives examples. :”The European Union is fully committed to protecting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities in all areas of life, with all available means, from legislation to policies and from research to funding. The report issued today on the implementation of the UN Convention on disability rights is proof of that commitment”, said European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding. The European Commission services are currently working on a European Accessibility Act. It aims to improve the functioning of the assistive technology market for the benefit of people with disabilities.

European Commission launches 5th Access City Award competition

The European Commission has today opened the competition for the fifth ‘Access City Award 2014’, the European Award for Accessible Cities. The annual prize recognises and celebrates cities for their efforts to make it easier for the disabled and older people to gain access to public areas such as housing, children’s play areas, public transport or communication technologies. Vice-President Reding said: “People with disabilities still face too many barriers in everyday life, which is why we have placed accessibility at the centre of our strategy for building a barrier-free Europe. The Access City award allows cities across Europe to showcase their efforts in making life more accessible for all! Cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants have until 10 September 2014 to submit their entries for the award. The European Commission will present the awards on 3 December 2014 in Brussels, on the occasion of the annual “European Day of People with Disabilities Conference”.

School Fruit Scheme: agreement on national envelopes for 2014/2015

The final national envelopes available for the 2014/15 School Fruit Scheme in each participating Member State have been approved in the Management Committee this week. The decision takes into account the increase in EU funds available for the Scheme from €90 million to €150 million, that was agreed in the context of the CAP 2020 reform. In addition to financing the distribution of fruits and vegetables in school, the funds will for the first time also be used for accompanying educational measures aimed at increasing fruit and vegetables consumption, so as to shape healthier eating habits. The main beneficiaries of the Scheme in 2014/2015 will be Italy, set to receive over € 29.2 million, followed by Germany (€ 22.8 million), Poland (€ 20.5 million), France (€ 15 million), Spain (€ 10.7 million), Romania (€ 6.8 million), the Czech Republic (€ 5.4 million), Netherlands (€ 5.4 million), Hungary (€ 5.4 million), and Bulgaria (€ 3.6 million). The formal decision will be adopted by the Commission in the coming weeks. In 2012/2013, 8.6 million children received fruit and vegetables at school in participating Member States. This was a 6% increase compared to 2011/2012].

More information is available online.

Kroes welcomes good progress on telecoms legislation at TTE Council 6 June

Vice President Kroes will attend the Transport and Telecoms Council in Luxembourg on Friday 6 June, where she will welcome good progress on the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation. This regulation will see the end of roaming charges in the EU, it will improve consumer rights for mobile and broadband contracts, and it will guarantee an open and free internet. She will also press Member States to commit to finalising the Network and Information Security (NIS) directive, which will make ICT networks more secure against cyber-attacks, and will see better coordination and sharing of information at EU level.  Vice President Kroes will also congratulate the Council on completing the e-Identification regulation; on the entry into force of the civil engineering directive, which will cut the cost of high speed broadband rollout by up to 30%; and she will present Ministers the 2014 Digital Agenda Scoreboard, which shows Member States’ progress in the uptake of broadband, eCommerce, eGovernment and digital skills.

What Commissioners said

President Barroso’s remarks ahead of the G7 Summit in Brussels

Yesterday afternoon, President Barroso expressed his expectations for the G7 Summit in Brussels at a joint press conference with European Council President Van Rompuy. President Barroso said: “This summit in Brussels will be, indeed, a special summit, firstly because it will take place in a G7 format, secondly because we will in particular address the situation in Ukraine, and finally because the summit will for the first time take place in Brussels.” He continued: “I expect this summit to show unity so as to maximise the impact of our action. I am proud of the contribution our European Union has made so far, responding united and with determination and speed to the crisis in Ukraine. We are showing that the European Union can be a strong force for democracy, freedom, prosperity and the rule of law. This is what we are and the values we stand for. And this is why we are willing to work with our G7 partners for these goals to the benefit of all.” and “(…) We need to coordinate the international support to Ukraine. In response to a growing need for international coordination, an EU led “international donor coordination platform” is being set up. If the Ukrainian government sets up a reform coordination mechanism soon, we stand ready to organise in Brussels a high level international donors coordination meeting in early July, and an international donors’ conference before the end of the year.” President Barroso also touched upon trade and economic issues, energy security and South Stream, and finally climate change and development.

The full speech is available online and can be watched on EBS .

President Barroso sends congratulations to the Polish people for the 25th anniversary of the first multiparty elections

At the beginning of the press conference opening the G7 summit, President Barroso said: “Let me start my statement in this press conference by sending from Brussels my warm congratulations to the Polish people for the 25th anniversary of the first multiparty elections. Because of the G7 meeting I could not respond positively to the kind invitation of President Komorowski to attend these celebrations but I would like to associate myself and the European Commission with these very important celebrations. We see that when people are given a free choice they always prefer the side of democracy, freedom and rule of law. The Polish elections 25 years ago accelerated the democratic transitions in all Central and Eastern European countries and paved the way for the integration of those countries in our European project.”