Daily News 01 / 10 / 2015

Commission holds Colloquium on combatting antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, as survey shows 50% of Europeans believe religious discrimination is widespread
On 1-2 October, the European Commission hosts the first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, in Brussels. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Věra Jourová will lead discussions on how to fight antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe and foster tolerance and respect in our societies. The challenge is highlighted by a new Eurobarometer survey on discrimination, published today, which show that 50% of Europeans believe discrimination based on religion or beliefs is widespread. The survey also shows that Muslims suffer from the lowest levels of social acceptance among religious groups. Data from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights on antisemitic offences, published yesterday, shows that 73% of respondents felt that antisemitism online has become worse over the last five years. Ahead of the event First Vice-President Timmermans said: “Our collective responsibility to live together in tolerance and respect is particularly important at a time when we have a moral obligation to give refuge to people of various religions and cultures who arrive on our shores.” Commissioner Jourová said: “Hate speech has no place in our society – whether physically or online. I will be working hard with national governments, EU institutions and the private sector, including IT companies, to counter online hate speech.” Participants will focus on preventing antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crime, tackling hate speech online, the role of local authorities, education and grassroots projects, and the current state of non-discrimination policies. See full press release and factsheet. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tim McPhie – Tel.: + 32 229 58602;  Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)
The European Union Provides Additional €30 million to Support Palestine Refugees through United Nations Relief and Works Agency
In the context of efforts to help address the plight of refugees in the wider Middle East region, the European Union announced yesterday that it will support Palestinian refugees with new funding totalling €30 million. This new assistance package, announced at an event held in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, brings the total EU support provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 2015 up to €125 million. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl signed an agreement for the first €10 million, with an additional €10 million to follow in October. The package also includes a further €10 million contribution to enable UNRWA to improve the education, health care and livelihood of the 480,000 Palestine refugees living in Syria. Commissioner Hahn said: “The EU is the largest and most reliable donor to UNRWA in its invaluable work with Palestinian refugees, providing them with access to primary education, health and social services, even under very harsh conditions. This is an investment in their future and at the same time an investment in the stability in Europe’s neighbourhood. This additional contribution will also allow UNRWA to bridge its financing gap in 2015 and to move forward in the implementation of its reform process.” A press release is available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Anca Paduraru – Tel.: +32 229 66430)
Fighting illegal fishing: Commission warns Taiwan and Comoros with yellow cards and welcomes reforms in Ghana and Papua New Guinea
The Commission today confirmed its zero tolerance policy against illegal fishing worldwide by warning Comoros and Taiwan that they risk being identified as uncooperative countries in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. At the same time, the Commission is lifting the yellow cards from Ghana and Papua New Guinea, which have significantly reformed their fisheries governance system. The Commission also adopted a Communication on the key achievements of the IUU Regulation in the first five years of its enforcement. Illegal fishing is a major threat to global marine resources as overfishing destroys the livelihoods of many communities who depend on fisheries. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “Today’s decisions demonstrate the determination of the EU to bring important players on board in the fight against IUU fishing. Both Ghana and Papua New Guinea have taken ownership of their fisheries reforms and now have robust legal and policy frameworks in place to fight IUU fishing activities. I am calling on the authorities of the Comoros and Taiwan to follow their example and join the European Union in promoting legal and sustainable fisheries worldwide.”  A press release and Q&A are available. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)
€146 million of EU funds for cross-border cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary
The European Commission adopted yesterday the new cross-border cooperation programme between Slovakia and Hungary, worth €172 million, with €146 million from the European Regional Development Fund. The programme focuses on improving mobility in the region, by investing in public transport and new connections, and on labour mobility, by fostering a more integrated cross border labour market. The descriptions of the 2014-2020 programmes are available on Commissioner Crețu’s webpage and on the Inforegio website. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)
Slovenia and Croatia: over €46 million for more cross-border cooperation in the fight against climate change
The 2014-2020 cross-border cooperation programme between Slovenia and Croatia, worth €55.6 million with €46.1 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund, was adopted yesterday. Resources will be targeted at joint initiatives to adapt to climate change and to protect the border region’s biodiversity. The descriptions of the 2014-2020 programmes are available on Commissioner Crețu’s webpage and on the Inforegio website. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)
Signature of a declaration on ‘Just Culture’ to enhance aviation safety
Today representatives from the European air industry signed a European Corporate Just Culture Declaration at a ceremony attended by Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc. In this declaration, signatories commit to build an atmosphere of trust in which staff are confident to report safety events and occurrences (also known as “Just Culture”). Just Culture has a direct impact on lowering incidents and preventing aircraft accidents. Commissioner Bulc said “The safety of European citizens is of utmost importance to this Commission. If we want to continue to be world leaders, maintaining European aviation as safest way to travel, we will have to make the ‘Just Culture’ a living reality. Today’s Declaration expresses this commitment. It is the shared vision of employers and staff on what should be done to make ‘Just Culture’ real.” (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)
Increase in marine protected areas reduces pressure on marine habitats and species
A new Commission report published today shows significant progress in establishing protected areas in Europe’s seas, with benefits for the economy and the environment. Marine protected areas act as a nature conservation tool to safeguard habitats and species, which are experiencing a decrease in their population, and the benefits that derive from ecosystems, such as coastal protection, flood management and tourism. Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the EU has committed to ensuring the conservation of 10% of its coastal and marine areas by 2020. The report finds that Europe has made significant progress in this direction. In 2012, 5.9% of Europe’s seas had already been designated as marine protected areas to form a European network, which continues to expand since then. The Commission supports Member States to designate, manage and control marine protected areas through the LIFE Programme and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, while promoting marine research and inclusive governance structures for the network. This objective is also reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The EU will participate in 2016, in negotiations for an agreement to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to improving the criteria for designating and managing protected areas in the high seas. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)
The Commission approves one new Traditional Speciality Guaranteed product from the Netherlands
The Commission has today approved the addition of one new product from the Netherlands to the register of Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSGs). ‘Hollandse maatjesharing/Hollandse Nieuwe’ and the also registered German name for it, ‘Holländischer Matjes’, are young herrings which are both caught and sold in the period from 1 May to 31 August. All processing, comprising gibbing, brining and ripening, is carried out in the traditional Dutch manner. This denomination will be added to the list of over 1,290 products already protected. More information: webpages on quality products and DOOR database of protected products. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56 185; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56 184)
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Energy2Market by Trailstone
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Energy2Market of Germany by Trailstone of the United Kingdom. Trailstone is a logistics and risk management company mainly active in the energy and commodity sector. Trailstone is controlled by the private equity firm Riverstone of the US. Energy2Market is mainly active in the trade of renewable electricity sourced from operators of wind farms and solar, water and biomass power plants in Germany. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the companies’ activities overlap only marginally for the wholesale supply of electricity. In addition, they face significant competition from producers and wholesale providers of electricity. 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.7743. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of LeasePlan by TDR Capital
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of LeasePlan Corporation N.V. of The Netherlands by TDR Capital LLP of the United Kingdom. TDR is a private equity firm with activities in a variety of sectors, including motor fuels retail, gyms and health clubs. LeasePlan is a fleet management and driver mobility company. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the only market where both parties are present is in the provision of fuel cards, being their market shares low and where a multitude of competitors exist. 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.7595. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control of Lowell and GFKL by Permira and OTPP in debt recovery sector
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Metis Bidco Limited and its subsidiaries (together the “Lowell Group” of the UK) and Garfunkelux Holdco 1 S.à.r.l. and its subsidiaries (together the “GFKL Group” of Germany) by private equity firm Permira Holdings Limited of Guernsey and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board of Canada. Both Permira and OTPP perform investments in a variety of industries. Lowell Group and GFKL Group offer consumer debt recovery services, including debt purchasing and collection. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, because the companies’ activities do not overlap, since Lowell Group is mainly active in the UK, whereas GFKL Group is active in Germany. The transaction was assessed 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.7761. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)
ANNOUNCEMENTS
Vice-President Dombrovskis in Austria to discuss economic and social developments
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, is in Vienna today and tomorrow to discuss economic and social issues related to the European Semester and issues surrounding the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. He will meet Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling, Social Affairs Labour and Consumer Protection Minister, Rudolf Hundstorfer, members of the Austrian parliament and social partners. A press conference will take place following his meeting with Finance Minister Schelling. After Austria, his next European Semester visit will be to Slovakia on 5 November. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)
Commissioner Thyssen meets civil society organisations to reinforce dialogue on the EU’s economic and social agenda
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen is meeting with a large number of civil society organisations to discuss how to strengthen the social dimension in the EU. The majority of attendants are EU-level NGOs working on several areas, such as social justice, fight against poverty and homelessness, or social inclusion of Roma, people with disabilities, migrants and other vulnerable groups, to mention a few. The meeting will allow participants to share their expertise and views in order to promote convergence towards higher social standards, in line with the goal of a ‘Triple A Social rating’ set by President Juncker in his Political Guidelines. Commenting ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Thyssen said: “Working with civil society is crucial for achieving a social triple A. Feedback and support from those working on the ground is essential to build common labour and social standards and in the preparation of our upcoming initiatives. This meeting launches a new approach to dialogue with civil society and will explore forms of future cooperation with the Commission in the months to come.” The speech by Commissioner Thyssen is available here. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)
Energy diplomacy: Commissioner Arias Cañete to attend the first-ever G20 Energy Ministerial meeting in Istanbul
European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete will attend the G20 Energy Ministerial meeting on 2 October which takes place in Istanbul, Turkey, for the first time ever. The meeting will focus on sustainable energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Ministers will also discuss energy investments in light of current market conditions. G20 Energy Ministers are expected to adopt a toolkit of voluntary options for long-term, integrated and sustainable approach towards accelerated renewable energy deployment. In the margins, Commissioner Arias Cañete will meet Mr Ali Rıza Alaboyun, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Ernest Moniz, United States Secretary of Energy, Mr Josh Frydenberg, Australian Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia and Mr Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. As G20 countries host 80% of existing renewable electricity capacity around the world and hold 75% of total global deployment potential, they play a key role in mitigating climate change. The G20 Ministerial meeting will be held back-to back with the G20 Conference on Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa, which takes place on 1 October. Today, more than 1.1 billion people live without access to electricity and the G20 plans to substantially contribute to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For more information please consult the website of G20. (For more information: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Nicole Bockstaller – Tel.: +32 229 52589)
Commissioners Vella and Crețu in Malta
Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Corina Crețu are in Malta today to participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue event in Valletta. Commissioner Crețu met this morning with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs, Mr. Hon Louis Grech, and the Parliamentary Secretary for the EU Presidency 2017 and for EU Funds, Dr. Ian Borg. Tomorrow, she is also visiting the new EU-funded Mater Dei Hospital Oncology Centre. Commissioner Crețu said: “I am here to tell the Maltese citizens what we can do to support the country in its efforts to create jobs and growth in the coming years. In line with the objectives of the Investment Plan for Europe, the European Structural and Investment Funds will target investments at key growth-generating areas, while addressing the specific needs of the national economy and of the Maltese people.” Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Vella said: “I look forward to traveling back to the country I know best with Corina to listen to citizens. Maltese people know and appreciate the value of the EU, and their role in it. On my own portfolio, Malta’s distinctive maritime tradition makes it the ideal place to hear views on the ongoing public consultation on EU’s role in achieving better international governance of oceans and seas to the benefit of sustainable blue growth.” More information on Cohesion Policy in Malta is available online. (For more information Enrico Brivio  – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595)
Source: technology

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