Author Archives: brusselsdiplomatic

Switzerland joins EU next generation supercomputers

We are very pleased that Switzerland – one of our long-time partners in high-performance computing – is joining the European effort to develop supercomputers in Europe. This will enhance Europe’s leadership in science and innovation, help grow the economy and build our industrial competitiveness.” Said Vice-President Andrus Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, welcomed this new commitment.

Switzerland is the 11th country to sign the EuroHPC declaration on high-performance computing (HPC) that aims at developing a world-class supercomputing infrastructure based on European technology. An integrated world-class high-performance computing infrastructure capable of at least 1018 calculations per second (so-called exascale computers) will additionally benefit the daily lives of European citizens: for example, from personalised medicine to safer transport systems or increased online fraud detection. Additionally to the signature ceremony, Commission published today the first results of the public consultation on high-performance computing. The respondents identified three main problems as harming the HPC development in Europe: limited interaction between industry and academia, deep fragmentation of HPC programmes and Europe’s dependency on non-EU suppliers for critical technologies and systems. The lack of sufficient resources and insufficient access to HPC resources for science were also flagged during the consultation. A clear majority of respondents confirmed the need for action at EU level. The results of the consultation will help the Commission to define a new legal and financial instrument by the end of 2017, building on the EuroHPC declaration and goals. The EuroHPC declaration was originally launched and signed in Rome in March 2017 during the Digital Day by France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Belgium signed the declaration in June 2017, Slovenia in July 2017, and Bulgaria last week. All other Member States are invited to join in the future.

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GEAR 2030 for sustainably growing automotive sector

 “The car industry is at a turning point. The emissions scandal has seriously damaged its reputation and credibility. Public health and the environment are at stake, societal expectations are changing and global competition is tough. This report is a good basis for a (re)start. I am pleased that it is broadly supported by both government and industry. Clearly we can achieve our goals through close collaboration.” Said Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

The High Level Group “GEAR 2030” has issued its report for a globally competitive and sustainably growing automotive sector. Jointly, public and private sector representatives brought together by the European Commission recommend that the car industry invests in clean, zero emissions vehicles and connected and automated driving. The Commission will now reflect on the recommendations and explore policy options to address them. A number of initiatives are already in the pipeline, such as the upcoming second Mobility Package including tighter CO2 standards, and the initiative for battery development and production in Europe. The car industry plays a pivotal role in the Commission’s Industrial Policy Strategy announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union speech.

EIB: EUR 4.7 billion investment

“We continue to observe an investment drought in the European economy hurting the future competitiveness of the continent, and market gaps in long-term financing opportunities available,” said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank. “The new projects approved today continue EIB’s contribution towards filling those gaps, to supporting sustainable investment across Europe and around the world. But we also stand ready to help regions to get back on their feet when natural disasters strike, as today’s financing package for Italy shows.”

The board of the European Investment Bank approved a total of EUR 4.7 billion of new financing for 30 projects across Europe and around the world at its meeting in Luxembourg today, including EUR 530 million for natural disaster recovery in Italy.

Reconstruction efforts will follow 40 different extreme weather events in 16 Italian regions over the last three years. This will help to finance urban reconstruction, including housing and public buildings, as well as financing to small companies and agricultural businesses impacted by recent natural disasters.

Other approved operations included backing for road and rail transport, renewable energy and electricity interconnectors, industrial innovation, healthcare, education and off-grid solar energy.

Investment Plan for Europe

Financing for eleven projects approved by the EIB board will be backed by the Investment Plan for Europe and support overall investment totaling EUR 1.6 billion in fifteen EU countries.

Today’s approvals included support for research and development in Bulgaria, Germany, France and Denmark as well as financing for transport and social infrastructure in Poland.

Improving urban, regional and national transport

A total of EUR 1.8 billion of new financing was approved for 8 new rail and road transport projects. This includes support for rail and road network modernisation in Poland, new trams in the Rhine-Neckar conurbation and new intercity rolling stock for use on routes between Paris and the Normandy coast.

New financing for congested urban roads in Tunisia was also approved, supporting construction of 8 new road junctions in the city of Sfax.

Supporting sustainable energy and improving electricity networks

Support for investment in new onshore windfarms in Latvia, as well as new small scale geothermal, biomass and solar power schemes across Italy, was approved amongst a total of EUR 664 million for new energy investment.

The board also backed financing proposals to modernise and reduce energy use in district heating in Krakow, to construct a new combined heat and power plant fuelled by waste in Sofia and to build a 400kV electricity interconnector between Romania and the Moldovan capital Chisinau.

It also agreed to a new scheme to support energy and water efficiency investment by private householders in Portugal.

Enabling corporate innovation and research

The EIB board approved more than EUR 495 million of new financing to support innovation by private companies. This includes modernisation of steel manufacturing in Germany and France, development of catalysts in Denmark, energy efficient cables in Italy, and research into new vaccines in Bulgaria.

Improving health and education facilities

Reflecting the EIB’s commitment to support long-term investment in social infrastructure and innovation, new financing to support the design, construction and fitting out of a new medical simulation centre in Warsaw and modernisation of high schools in the Seine-Saint-Denis department was also approved.

Backing urban regeneration

The board gave the green light for proposals to support city wide regeneration, renovation and preservation investment schemes in Limerick and financing investment in cities across Silesia.

Support for small business investment

A total of EUR 560 million of new financing to be managed in partnership with local banks was approved. This will improve access to finance by small and medium sized companies in Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

EU: better use of European Arrest Warrant

 “The European Arrest Warrant is a success story. It shortens drastically the time for criminals to be transferred from one EU country to the other. It allows these criminals to be brought to justice in the country where they committed their crime. A more efficient cooperation between justice authorities will improve safety in Europe “. Said Commissioner Jourová opened the High Level Expert meeting on the European Arrest Warrant today, where a handbook was presented.

The European Commission is releasing today a handbook to support judicial authorities to make better use of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to improve the fight against cross-border crime.  Since its launch in 2004, the European Arrest Warrant has been the most used EU instrument of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, with 16,144 European Arrest Warrants issued in 2015. The European Arrest Warrant allowed for the speedy extradition of, for example, a terrorist involved in the Paris attacks caught in Brussels and a gang of armed robbers sought by Italy whose members were arrested in six different EU countries. The handbook provides a series of tips and recommendations to help judges and practitioners when they issue or execute a European Arrest Warrant.

EU-Mexico trade agreement: new report on negotiating round

As part of its commitment to a more transparent trade policy the Commission today published a report summarising the progress made during the latest negotiating round for the EU-Mexico trade agreement held in the end of September in Brussels, as well as three text proposals submitted to Mexico ahead of the latest round.

The proposals published  concern wine and spirits, motor vehicles and the usual exceptions that can be invoked to restrict trade for instance for security or health reasons. The round report includes details on all areas of the negotiations, including trade in goods, services, investment and technical barriers to trade. The talks focused on the text proposals as well as on the market access offers on goods, services and public procurement exchanged in July. While some groups advanced more than others, overall the round brought a good progress. The sixth round will take place in Mexico City from 25 November to 1 December. The objective remains to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

EU to facilitate food donation

 

The Commission adopted today guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Welcoming the adoption, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “I am particularly happy that today, on the occasion of the World Food Day, we have a good news to report. In EU around 550.000 tons of food are redistributed to 6.1 million people by food banks in the EU, but that’s only a fraction of the estimated volume of food which could be redistributed to prevent food waste and help fight food poverty. I am convinced that the guidelines adopted today will not only help industry and charity organisations to make their job easier and hence provide to those in greatest need but also become a reference for national authorities and operators to facilitate food donation in the EU”.

The aim is to clarify relevant EU legislation and help lift barriers to food donation. The EU guidelines will help donors and recipients of surplus food to make sure that they respect relevant requirements such as food hygiene and food information to consumers, thereby ensuring safe food donation practices. The guidelines also promote common interpretation of EU rules applicable to food donation, including those related to VAT.  The EU guidelines were developed by the Commission in close cooperation with the members of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste bringing together Member States, international organisations, industry, food banks and other charity organisations.

#IMF2017: EIB claims better cooperation on migration

Irregular migration and forced displacement is not new. But for too long we have lacked a joint, coordinated approach to address both the root causes of this phenomenon and its consequences.
Global institutions like Multilateral Development Banks have a special responsibility to cooperate. It is urgent for us to improve the way in which we work together as we bring assistance to people in all the countries concerned.” Said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Better coordination of the work of Multilateral Development Banks could have a significant impact on the millions of people around the world affected by the migration and forced displacement challenge. This is the thinking behind a new proposal debated today by representatives of the world’s multilateral development banks and countries from the G7 in Washington at the IMF/World Bank Group annual meetings.

EIB President and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva were co-chairing the meeting alongside Vincenzo La Via, one of Italy’s high level representatives at the G7.

President Hoyer added, “As the destination of thousands of tragic journeys across the Mediterranean, Italy, which chairs the G7 this year, has been shouldering a disproportionate part of the task of dealing with desperate migrants and displaced persons arriving in Europe. I believe we must respond positively and urgently to Italy’s request to strengthen cooperation among MDBs in this area. We must get better at how we MDBs as a group help address the shocks and stresses that arise from this profound change.” 

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