Following the announcement made by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in July 2016, the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY) will be launched tomorrow at the Doge’s Palace in Venice. This initiative provides a unique opportunity to increase the number of visits, promote sustainable tourism, stimulate investment opportunities for Europe and China, improve air connectivity and underpin the ongoing negotiations on EU-China visa facilitation.
The year will be opened by the Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Nikolina Angelkova, the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, the Vice-Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, Mr Qi Xuchun, and the Vice-Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, Du Jiang. The EU-China Tourism Year will consist of a number of cooperative marketing campaigns funded through public-private partnerships, business summits, and business-to-business meetings for tourism operators funded by the COSME programme. On the EU side, the aim is to lead to an annual increase of 10% of Chinese visitors, representing at least €1 billion each year for the EU tourism industry, and an estimate of 200 partnership agreements between EU and Chinese companies. The ECTY is a concrete manifestation of EU cultural diplomacy in the framework of the EU-China strategic partnership. The initiative is also in line with the EU Strategy on China adopted in 2016. It is a way to develop a better understanding between European and Chinese people, contributing to the “High Level EU-China People-to-People Dialogue” and the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage. The opening ceremony will be followed by the first EU-China Tourism Business Summit.
“Only months after the launch of the European Defence Fund, we are delivering by supporting the first concrete research defence project with EU funding. Others will follow shortly. European defence cooperation is now a tangible reality.” Said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
The European Defence Fund, announced by President Juncker in September 2016 and launched in June 2017, is starting to deliver in practice, with the first EU-funded grant agreement for a defence research project signed yesterday. Named after the Priestess of Ancient Delphi, project PYTHIA aims to identify key trends in the fast evolving world of innovative defence technologies. The PYTHIA consortium, run by Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A, brings together partners from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom, and will receive a €1 million EU grant. Under the research strand of the European Defence Fund, €90 million will be allocated for defence research grants fully and directly funded from the EU budget (2017-2019). The technology foresight project will use big data analysis to examine large volumes of technological information, looking to identify future disruptive technologies and recommend future defence research themes. The next research grants in the areas of drones and protection and equipment for soldiers will be signed in the coming weeks. The research strand is complemented by a capability development strand, under which the EU will create incentives for Member States to cooperate on joint development of defence equipment and technology through co-financing from the EU budget (€500m for 2019 and 2020). The industrial development programme was agreed by Member States on 12 December and is now pending European Parliament approval. The Fund will also seek to support some of the capability projects of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
“Today we boost our collective ability to catch the ‘big fish’ behind fake goods and pirated content which harm our companies, our jobs, our health and safety. We are also placing Europe as a global leader with a patent licensing system conducive to the roll-out of the Internet of Things from smartphones to connected cars.” Said Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
The Commission today presents measures to ensure that intellectual property rights (IPR) are well protected, thereby encouraging European companies, in particular SMEs and start-ups, to invest in innovation and creativity. Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth Investment and Competitiveness, added: “Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness largely depends on our many entrepreneurs investing in new ideas and knowledge. This package improves the application and enforcement of intellectual property rights and encourages investment in technology and product development in Europe.” Today’s initiatives will make it easier to act efficiently against breaches of IPR, facilitate cross-border litigation, and tackle the fact that 5% of goods imported into the EU (worth €85 billion) are counterfeited or pirated. When it comes to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), the Commission encourages fair and balanced licensing negotiations which ensure that companies are rewarded for their innovation while allowing also others to build on this technology to generate new innovative products and services.
“Digitisation is changing how our societies and labour market function. It is important that we indeed reboot equality and ensure technology is used to make everyone in Europe benefit from the opportunities created by technological change. I therefore congratulate the three winners, which show creative potential to push for a truly inclusive economy and society.” Said Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska.
The Commission awarded three projects with the Equality Rebooted prize. This year’s edition of the 2017 European Social Innovation Competition asked candidates to present digital innovation projects addressing inequality in Europe. The winners will receive each €50,000 for having successfully and impressively proven how digital technologies can improve people’s lives. The innovations awarded are a collaborative platform to build more sustainable homes and neighbourhoods (Buildx from United Kingdom), a multimedia tool for blind and visually-impaired people (Feelif from Slovenia) and peer-to-peer learning network (Saga from Netherlands). Digital inclusionis anchored also in the Digital Single Market strategy, through which the Commission supports accessible ICT solutions, assistive technologies, development of digital skills as well as increasing participation of disadvantaged people in the digital society. This is part of the Commission’s broader aim to enhance social inclusion of disabled persons, via initiatives such as our proposal to make products and services more accessible for them.The European Social Innovation Competition is organised since 2012 in memory of the Portuguese politician and social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos to convert the most innovative ideas into sustainable and transformative projects.
“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.
“Shopping online is an easy way for consumers to shop, but it shouldnevercome at the expense of safety. With the new guidelines, national surveillance authorities will be able to check products bought online and ensure that all products sold in Europe are safe. Our latest figures show that trust in e-commerce is growing. Today’s safety measures will further contribute to this trend and reassure consumers. It’s our duty to make sure online commerce is as safe as traditional shopping.” said Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
The Commission has issued guidelines to help national market surveillance authorities better control products sold online. In 2017, 55% of Europeans buy online (2017 Consumer Scoreboard) and get products shipped directly to their door, escaping the authorities’ traditional controls. Some of these products might be dangerous and not in line with EU product safety laws, for instance toys containing substances banned in the EU. The guidelines published today clarify: 1) that any product sold online to the EU has to comply with EU product legislation, even if the producer is based outside the EU; 2) the obligations of online marketplaces when authorities require them to remove dangerous products through the ‘notice and action procedure’, as defined in the e-commerce directive; and 3) the responsibility of all actors in the supply chain, including fulfilment service providers who receive the order, package and send the product.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “With rising online sales, national market surveillance authorities find controlling and tracing products sold on-line increasingly complex. This guidance will ensure Europeans can shop online safely while further measures to strengthen market surveillance in Europe are planned for later this year.” As outlined in the 2015 Single Market Strategy, the Commission is working on a package of measures later this year that will open up more opportunities to companies that want to expand cross-border and keep unsafe and non-compliant products out from the EU market.