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Libyan Newswire

Daily News 21 / 09 / 2016

End of roaming charges in the EU in 2017: Commission agrees on new approach to make it work for all Europeans

As announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address, Members of the College today discussed a revised draft of the rules needed to avoid abuses of the end of roaming charges in time for June 2017. They discussed a new approach to the ‘fair use’ principle and agreed that there should be no limits in terms of timing or volume imposed on consumers when using their mobile devices abroad in the EU. At the same time, the new approach provides a solid safeguard mechanism for operators against potential abuses. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Parliament and Council agreed on our proposal to end roaming charges for travellers in the EU. Together we need to ensure low prices for users all across Europe, to make full use of new mobile services. European consumers would not accept it otherwise.” Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “Commission action on roaming prices has delivered for European consumers. Today’s draft rules ensure we can end roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 for all people who travel periodically in the EU, while ensuring that operators have the tools to guard against abuse of the rules.” The College of Commissioners will adopt the final proposal by 15 December 2016, as foreseen in the Regulation on the end of roaming charges, following feedback from the Body of European Regulators in Electronic Communications (BEREC), Member States and all interested parties.  See the full press release. (For more information: Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)


EU at the UN General Assembly – Day 3

The UN General Assembly ministerial week will continue today, with a busy agenda for the high-level EU delegation and the intervention of the European Council President Donald Tusk on behalf of the European Union at the General Debate. On Tuesday, the 71st General Assembly was officially opened and all EU representatives had a series of events in the sidelines, starting with the Leader’s summit on refugees organised by US President Obama. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans addressed the high-level event marking the one year anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. He reiterated the European Union’s strong commitment to implement Agenda 2030 and achieving the Goals. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini focus was very much on the crises in our immediate neighbourhood, in particular the situation in Syria and Libya. She participated in the ministerial meeting of the International Syria Support Group and met with the Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Serraj and Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala; she also met with UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Martin Kobler. She also met, together with First Vice-President Timmermans, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos to discuss the Colombian peace agreement. Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva addressed the Concordia Summit event on the future of the EU, where she underlined that the strength of the EU lies in competitiveness and the need to strengthen it. Besides several bilateral meetings, including with HR/VP Mogherini and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Izetbegovic, Commissioner Johannes Hahn addressed the private sector forum on migration and refugees. Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos addressed the panel on challenges caused by refugees and migrants at the presentation of the 2016 edition of the OECD international migration outlook. The Commissioner highlighted the need for a new generation of effective migration policies, in line with the new report. Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis addressed the high-level event of the Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth on the occasion of the launch of the report on health workforce. The Commissioner reaffirmed that health should be seen as an investment and not as a cost. Commissioner Christos Stylianides had several bilateral meetings, including with World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. Coverage available on EBS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic Tel.: – +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio Tel.: – +32 229 62076)

UN General Assembly: EU announces €40 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen at United Nations General Assembly

Today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the European Commission will announce its intention to allocate a further €40 million of emergency humanitarian aid to provide life-saving assistance for people in need in Yemen. The country is suffering from one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises after a year and a half of conflict. An estimated 82% of the Yemeni population is in need of assistance. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, says: “The EU is stepping up vital humanitarian assistance to Yemen which is in a desperate situation. The whole country is suffocating from a lack of food, of water, fuel, and the economy is collapsing. Civilians are paying the highest price for the conflict, as their resilience has reached its limits. Attacks against civilians, including aid workers, continue to happen. The humanitarian response needs to be scaled up. This additional funding will help humanitarian agencies in the country that operate under extremely difficult circumstances to continue providing life-saving assistance, such as health care, water and sanitation, nutrition and food security”. The full press release is available online. (For more information: Carlos Martin Ruiz De Gordejuela – Tel.: +32 229 65332; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


State aid: Commission gives guidance on local public support measures that do not constitute state aid

The European Commission has found that five public measures for purely local operations in Spain, Germany and Portugal involve no state aid because they are unlikely to affect trade between Member States. For these kinds of measures, Member States always have full autonomy to decide and invest state funds. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “In many cases Member States can stimulate investment without asking the Commission. These decisions confirm that many local public support measures do not constitute state aid. This reflects the Juncker Commission’s approach to be ‘big on big things and small on small things’. It also complements the modernisation of State Aid as a result of which 90% of all State aid measures can be decided by Member States themselves – they no longer have to go to the Commission for approval.” The five decisions announced today clarify what public support measures Member State authorities can implement without prior scrutiny by the Commission because they do not affect trade between Member States. They complement a set of decisions taken in 2015that already gave guidance on what types of public support does not constitute State aid. This reduces the administrative burden for EU Member States, speeds up the delivery of investments, and increases legal certainty for public authorities and companies. The decisions are part of the Commission’s effort to focus State aid control on bigger cases that genuinely impact competition in the Single Market, to the greatest benefit of consumers. They complement several initiatives the Commission has taken over the past two years, including the Notion of Aid Notice adopted in May 2016 and the General Block Exemption Regulation adopted in May 2014. The full press release is available online in EN, DE, FR, ES and PT.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)


Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Walter Rau Neusser Öl und Fett by Bunge

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Walter Rau Neusser Öl und Fett AG (WRAG) of Germany, by Bunge Deutschland GmbH (Germany), a subsidiary of Bunge of the United States. WRAG is active in the processing and blending of vegetable oils and fats primarily for industrial food processors and production and marketing of edible oils. WRAG’s sole facility is located in Neuss, Germany. Bunge is a global food and agribusiness group active in the production and sale of products such as sugar, edible oils, fats and bio-fuels and in the distribution of fertiliser products. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because of the moderate increment in market shares brought about by the transaction, the different business focus of the Parties and the presence of strong competitors in the markets. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8068. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella – Tel.: +32 229 86801)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Gategroup by HNA

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over Gategroup Holding (“Gategroup”) of Switzerland by HNA Group CO. (“HNA”) of China). Gategroup provides catering services and retail on-board aircrafts and — to a lesser extent — other related ancillary activities such as on-board service equipment and supply chain and logistics solutions or management of airport lounges. HNA is a conglomerate with core divisions for aviation, real estate holdings, capital/financial services, tourism, and shipping/food cold chain logistics; HNA is mainly focused on China and the Asia region, with some activities in the EU. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its limited impact on the market structure. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8104. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Angela Nardella – Tel.: +32 229 86801)


Video message by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, on the International Day of Peace

“On this International Day of Peace, let us keep in mind that all wars can come to an end. Peace is possible – if we don’t lose hope, and we never stop working for it. […] It might take years, but peace is always possible – if we work to make it real. The European Union has proven it, and this is why we will continue to work for peace, all around the world.” Watch the High Representative/Vice-President’s video message on the International Day of Peace here. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076)


Commissioner Thyssen’s keynote speech on youth unemployment at European Policy Centre High Level Conference

Yesterday, 20 September 2016, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, gave a keynote speech at the European Policy High Level Conference on youth unemployment. In her speech, Commissioner Thyssen highlighted the results obtained by the Youth Guarantee, a scheme that aims at ensuring that all people under 25 get a good-quality, concrete offer for a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or continued education within 4 months of them leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. Since the start of its implementation 3 years ago, 14 million young people registered in the scheme, and 9 million took up an offer. There are 1.4 million fewer young unemployed in the European Union, and 700 000 fewer NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training). In light of these promising results, President Juncker announced in his State of the Union speech on 14 September 2016 to prolong the scheme. In addition, an extra €1 billion will be allocated to the Youth Employment Initiative, the main financial instrument supporting the Youth Guarantee, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund. In total, this will make it possible to support 2 million more young people until 2020 in Member States most affected by youth unemployment. Later this fall, the Commission will publish a detailed report on the overall as well as country-by-country results obtained by both the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative. (For more information:Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


A transatlantic Citizens’ Dialogue on tax avoidance and privacy in the digital age

Today at 4pm CET, Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, will discuss tax avoidance and privacy issues in the digital age with the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics and University Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz (both in New York) and Senator Mario Monti (in Milan), the former Commissioner for Competition and former Prime Minister of Italy, at Columbia University in New York. Participants in New York and Milan, linked by video, will engage in a debate on competition, tax avoidance, and privacy in the digital age, from both the US and EU perspective. In line with the European Commission’s political priorities, the very first transatlantic Citizens’ Dialogue will also focus on three of the ten priorities: Jobs, Growth and Investment, the EU-US Free Trade Agreement (TTIP), and the EU as a Global Actor. A live broadcast is available online, and the dialogues can be joined via #EUdialogues. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100)

European Commission appoints Director to the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Luxembourg

Today, the European Commission appointed Mr Marc Becquet as Director of the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Luxembourg (OIL) as of 1 November 2016. Mr Becquet, a Belgian national, joined the Commission in 1989. He first became Head of Unit in 2002, in the Joint Research Centre. In 2009, he moved to DG Human Resources, where he worked on security, safety of infrastructure and health at work. He is currently in charge of the Commission’s Health and Safety Policies. Between April 2015 and December 2015, he was an Acting Director of HR’s Security Directorate. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein – Tel.: +32 229 93265; Andreana Stankova – Tel.: +32 229 57857)

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