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The European Union, the United States, China and the vast majority of the World Trade Organization (WTO) members that were participating in the negotiations agreed today to eliminate custom duties on 201 high-tech products. The extension of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is the biggest tariff-cutting deal in the WTO in almost two decades. The agreement initiated and brokered by the EU, will benefit both consumers and firms alike by removing customs duties on a wide range of goods, including medical equipment, video games and consoles, home hi-fi systems, headphones, blue-ray/DVR players, semi-conductors, and GPS devices.
A new recruitment process has been recently launched for the post of Director of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology following the end of the contract of the previous Director. The vacancy notice has been published in the Official Journal with the deadline for applications on 4th of September 2015.
Today the European Commission has put the final building blocks in place to kick-start investment in the real economy. A package of measures agreed today will ensure that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is up and running by early autumn 2015, keeping the ambitious timetable set by President Jean-Claude Juncker to implement the Investment Plan for Europe. The Commission has just published a Communication on the role of National Promotional Banks (NPBs) in supporting the Investment Plan for Europe.
The European Commission has today adopted an 'operational programme' worth €15 million in investments to Malta's economy - specifically to support SME competitiveness. The value of the investment, provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the form of guarantees is expected to quadruple to some €60, thanks to the leverage effect of expected private investment as new loans to SMEs.
As part of the Energy Union strategy, on Wednesday 15 Julty the Commission presented proposals to deliver a new deal for energy consumers, to launch a redesign of the European electricity market, to update energy efficiency labelling and to revise the EU Emissions Trading System. The package is an important step towards implementing the Energy Union strategy with a forward looking climate change policy, launched as one of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission in February 2015.
On Thursday 9 July, the European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to MasterCard. The Statement of Objections outlines the Commission's preliminary view that MasterCard's rules prevent banks from offering lower interchange fees to retailers based in another Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA), where interchange fees may be higher.
Huge telephone bills ruining your holiday budget, an Internet connection not delivering on its promises: these experiences will be soon old memories. Almost two years after the European Commission put forward its proposal for a telecoms single market, an agreement was found with the European Parliament and the Council. The compromise was reached earlier today following final negotiations between the three institutions (so-called 'trilogue' meetings).
On 22 June, the five Presidents – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the Euro Summit, Donald Tusk, the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz – revealed ambitious plans on how to deepen the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as of 1 July 2015 and how to complete it by latest 2025.
On the evening of Wednesday 24 June, the European Parliament plenary voted through the Regulation for a European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Commission's €315 billion Investment Plan.
The fight against youth unemployment is a top priority for the European Commission. Good quality apprenticeships help young people to acquire the skills and key competences necessary to be successful on the labour market. Today more than forty companies and other organisations have joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, coordinated by the European Commission, and committed to providing more and better apprenticeships for young people. The companies will make a total of 140 000 apprenticeships and training opportunities available to young people. The European Commission is committed to strengthening the supply, quality and image of apprenticeships.
The European Commission is launching infringement procedures against Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Malta, Poland and Spain on the grounds that their national rules include excessive and unjustified obstacles in the area of professional services. The Commission considers that requirements imposed on certain service providers in these Member States run counter to the Services Directive.
The third edition of EU Code Week is scheduled to take place across Europe from 10 to 18 October 2015. Millions of children, young adults, adults, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and policymakers will again come together in events and classrooms across Europe to learn to create with code. You can start planning your event now!
For the second consecutive year, the Europe Direct Information Centres in Malta have organised their annual Europe Day Photo Competition. This year’s competition saw its conclusion with a cultural and fun outing for the winners - class 4 Green from St Michael Foundation School in San Gwann.
The European Commission adopted today the 2014-2020 MED transnational cooperation programme, worth more than €275 million, with €224 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). A further €9.3 million has been allocated to the programme from the EU's Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA).
Fisheries in Europe are further progressing to sustainability in the North and West of the European Union. More fish can be harvested, thereby contributing to improved revenues for our fishermen and their communities. However, in the Mediterranean Sea, serious problems of overfishing continue to persist. These are the key messages that Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, passes in this year's report on the state of fish stocks and the preparation for setting next years' fish quotas.
The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) published a vacancy notice for a Facilities Management, Safety and Security Officer. Deadline to apply is 23/06/2015. Read more on https://www.enisa.europa.eu/recruitment/vacancies/facilities-management-safety-and-security-officer.
In order to enhance the capacity of the European Union to protect human health through the prevention and control of human disease, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) aims to identify, assess and communicate current and emerging threats to human health from communicable diseases. The ECDC is currenly looking for a new Director. The closing date for registration is 22 June 2015.
The European Commission has opened a public consultation to collect views on the main policy options for developing an ambitious new approach on the Circular Economy. Stakeholders' input will help feed the preparation of the new action plan, tobe presented by the end of 2015.
Tobacco use in the EU is down by 2 percentage points compared with 2012 (26% vs. 28%) and down by 4 percentage points in age category 15 to 24 years (25% vs 29%). Average age of starting smoking remains unchanged at 17.6 years. 59% of smokers have tried to quit – 19% in the past 12 months. 12% of Europeans have tried e-cigarettes, compared to 7% in 2012.
In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing several legal actions against Member States for failing to comply properly with their obligations under EU law. These decisions covering many sectors aim to ensure proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses.
Two weeks after presenting the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission is today adopting the first proposals of its comprehensive approach to improving the management of migration. Following the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean last month, European leaders made a firm commitment to solidarity amongst Member States to address the common migratory challenges. With today's proposals, the Commission is turning words into action and setting out immediate and long-term responses to the migration challenges that Europe faces.
The Commission today proposed a 2016 EU budget of €143.5 billion in payment credits to support the recovery of the European economy and help improve lives in Europe and beyond. The money will be invested to boost innovation, create jobs, help convergence among Member States and among regions, deal more effectively with migration and further strengthen the role of the EU as a global player. The proposal also includes contributions to the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), which is at the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe. Today’s draft will be sent to the European Parliament and EU Member States who will jointly decide on the final budget.
On the 13th of May the European Commission adopted country-specific economic policy recommendations for 2015 and 2016 asking for national actions to create jobs and stimulate growth. These recommendations reflect the Commission’s economic and social agenda. Since President Juncker’s Commission took office in November 2014 and published its Annual Growth Survey 2015, this agenda has focused on three mutually reinforcing pillars: boosting investment, implementing structural reforms and pursuing fiscal responsibility.
Ninety-five per cent of the monitored bathing sites in the European Union met minimum standards for water quality in 2014. Water quality was excellent at 83 % of the sites, an increase of almost 1 percentage point compared to 2013. Malta at the top of the list.
Yesterday, the Commission adopted a number of economic governance decisions and the 2015 Country-Specific Recommendations addressed to Member States, including Malta. The Recommendations are a key stage of the so-called European Semester, the EU's annual cycle of economic policy guidance and surveillance.
Yesterday, the European Commission presented a European Agenda on Migration outlining the immediate measures that will be taken in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean as well as the steps to be taken in the coming years to better manage migration in all its aspects.
The European Commission is currently organising a selection procedure to replace 7 out of 14 members of the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), whose mandates will expire on 30 June 2016. The call for expressions of interest was published in the Official Journal of the European Union: OJ C158 of 13.05.2015, and can be found here.
Peace and Unity were the main themes for this year’s activities organised in Malta to celebrate Europe Day. This day, which is commemorated on the 9th of May is Europe’s 'birthday', and is a celebration of peace and unity commemorating the historical 'Schuman declaration'.
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, will visit Malta on 7 and 8 May as part of the European Semester on economic policy coordination and will discuss reforms underway in the country. Amongst others, he will meet the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Minister for Social Dialogue.
Economy, finance, tax and competition
The Internet and digital technologies are transforming our world – in every walk of life and in every line of business. Europe must embrace the digital revolution and open up digital opportunities for people and businesses. How? By using the power of the EU's Single Market. Today, the European Commission unveiled its detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market, thereby delivering on one of its top priorities.
Science and technology
On Tuesday 5th May, all Gozitan students attending Form 2 were treated to a half-day of entertainment organised by Europe Direct Information Centre of Gozo in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in Malta. The activity was opened by Mr Michael Grech, President of the Gozo Business Chamber who spoke about his experiences, both professional and personal, with regards to the importance of language learning.
Economic growth in the European Union is benefitting from positive economic tailwinds. According to the European Commission's Spring 2015 Economic Forecast, these short-term factors are boosting an otherwise mild cyclical upswing in the EU.
Economy, finance, tax and competition
The European Commission Representation in Malta, based at Europe House, Valletta, is currently looking for a motivated and dynamic trainee willing to join its team for a period of up to six months. The traineeship is unpaid, but presents an excellent opportunity to gain an important work experience in a distinctly multinational and stimulating environment. If interested, please keep reading the specifications below and apply by Friday 15 May 2015.
EU explained, Employment and social rights
Following last week's tragic events that claimed the life of hundreds of migrants, the European Council called a special meeting on Thursday 23 April to discuss how to bring relief to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean. EU leaders have agreed to triple the resources available to Triton border mission. They have also pledged considerable concrete support, including many more vessels, aircraft, experts. Next step for action is the European Agenda for Migration in mid-May, that will develop a more systemic and geographically comprehensive approach to migration.
At a joint meeting of Foreign and Interior Ministers, chaired by High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini and held in Luxembourg, Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Avramopoulos presented a 10 point plan of the immediate actions to be taken in response to the crisis situation in the Mediterranean. The plan received the full backing of Foreign and Interior Ministers.
Justice and citizens rights
This Saturday, a number of organisations have proclaimed a "global day of action" against free trade agreements and unfair trade. I find it very inspiring that trade policy is garnering this type of far-reaching, heated debate. Trade used to be one of the issues that few people cared about, and even fewer debated. No more. Trade - and in particular TTIP, the trade deal that the EU is negotiating with the US - is the focus of discussion all over Europe.
Business, External relations and foreign affairs
How many children live in the European Union? And how has their share in the population evolved and is expected to change in the future? Are the youngest children in our country cared for more often by their parents, relatives, a child-minder or through a day-care centre? How do young people make the switch from school to work? How are they affected by information and communication technologies in their everyday lives? Answers to these questions and many more can be found in the publication “Being young in Europe today” issued by Eurostat.
Culture, education and youth
On 25 February, the European Commission published an economic surveillance package setting out the analytical basis for the adoption of Country-Specific Recommendations in May. The country reports analyse the economic policies of each Member State and the euro area as a whole, in line with this year’s streamlined European Semester cycle.
Economy, finance, tax and competition
The Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development of the University of Malta was commissioned to carry out a study on the external costs of traffic and congestion in Malta by the European Commission Representation in Malta in May 2014. This report outlines the purpose, context and objectives of the study. It describes the approach and methodology used in the research and presents the findings of the study.
Transport and travel
The European Commission has recently launched a Green Paper on building a Capital Markets Union and two flanking consultation papers on securitisation and a review of the Prospectus Directive. The main objectives of this initiative is to break down the existing barriers to cross-border investments in Europe which prevent businesses from getting access to finance at a reasonable cost, give savers more investment choices as well as enhance the efficiency of the system that channels such funds.
Economy, finance, tax and competition
Career women are often asked how they cope juggling their work with their family commitments. Men are rarely, if ever, asked the same question. In reality, can we speak of work-life balance and equality as something that can be achieved at all, whether at the level of the individual or society in general?
Employment and social rights
The European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos is on a one-day official visit to Malta. This morning Mr Avramopoulos visited the headquarters of the European Asylum Support Office in Valletta and during a press point given together with Dr Robert Visser, EASO's Executive Director, presented the findings of two EASO actions conducted within the framework of the Task Force Mediterranean: the pilot project on information gathering in Malta and Italy on the phenomenon of facilitation of irregular migrants and the EASO pilot project on joint processing activities in the field of asylum.
Following two years of solid decreases in the number of people killed on Europe's roads, the first reports on road deaths in 2014 are disappointing. According to the figures released today, the number of road fatalities has decreased by approximately 1% compared to 2013. This follows on the 8% decrease in 2012 and 2013. The figures reveal a total of 25 700 road deaths in 2014 across all 28 Member States of the EU. Whilst this is 5700 fewer than in 2010, it falls short of the intended target decrease.
Transport and travel
The European Commission published new figures yesterday, showing that in 2014, nearly 2500 products, ranging from toys to motor vehicles, were either stopped before they entered the EU or removed from markets because they were dangerous for EU consumers. For 12 years, the European Commission and EU Member States have been working together to ensure that consumer goods placed on the European markets are safe. For this purpose, they use the Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products.
Environment, consumers and health
The European Commission today presented a package of tax transparency measures as part of its ambitious agenda to tackle corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax competition in the EU. A key element of this Tax Transparency Package is a proposal to introduce the automatic exchange of information between Member States on their tax rulings.
Boosting the knowledge, capacity and expertise of cities on integrated urban development will be at the heart of the discussions at the Brussels launch event of the URBACT III programme. With more than two-thirds of people living in Europe's cities, the performance of our cities in tackling issues such as unemployment, poverty or resource efficiency is of great importance to Europe's recovery. The launch event is a timely opportunity for stakeholders to explore how URBACT can empower our cities in these crucial tasks.
The European Commission has today adopted a €29m investment package for the Maltese maritime, fisheries and aquaculture sectors which includes €23m of EU funding. The package will support smart and green fisheries and aquaculture, while strengthening the economic viability of businesses in the sector. The programmes will support fishing communities by improving infrastructure and equipping fishermen with new skills and opportunities to help them diversify their business models.
Agriculture, fisheries and food
Today the Commission is opening the call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to help finance key trans-European energy infrastructure projects. €100 million will be made available for projects aimed at ending energy isolation, eliminating energy bottlenecks and to complete the European energy market. This European money will also act as a catalyst for securing additional financing by private and public investors. With a total of €650 million for grants foreseen in 2015, this is the first of two calls planned for 2015. The deadline for applications is 29 April 2015. A decision on the selection of proposals to be funded is expected for mid-July.
A new report published today shows that a coordinated EU environment policy has delivered substantial benefits for citizens over the past five years. Europeans enjoy cleaner air and water, send less waste to landfill and recycle more; while environmental policies drive jobs and growth. But the report warns that Europe's long-term goal of "living well, within the limits of our planet" – the aim of the General Union Environment Action Programme (7th EAP)– cannot be achieved with the current level of ambition of environment and related policies.
Environment, consumers and health
The European Commission has today adopted the Maltese Operational Programme "Investing in human capital" financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) in the period 2014-2020. This programme aims to invest over 132 million (of which 105 million euro from the ESF) to promote employment and social inclusion, improve the education system and enhance the efficiency of the public administration.
Employment and social rights, Regions and local development
The 2015 European Semester kicked off last November with the Annual Growth Survey, which outlined the new Commission's three-pillar jobs and growth strategy: boosting investment, accelerating structural reforms and pursuing responsible, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation. Building on these priorities, the Commission published a series of country reports, analysing Member States' economic policies.
On Wednesday 18 February, the European Commission launched its landmark project to unlock funding for Europe’s businesses and to boost growth in the EU’s 28 Member States with the creation of a true single market for capital. The Capital Markets Union aims to break down the barriers that are blocking cross-border investments in the EU and preventing businesses from getting access to finance.
Energy is used to heat and to cool buildings and homes, transport goods, and power the economy. But with ageing infrastructure, poorly integrated markets, and uncoordinated policies, our consumers, households and businesses do not benefit from increased choice or from lower energy prices. It is time to complete the single energy market in Europe. Delivering on this top priority set out in President Juncker's political guidelines, today the European Commission sets out its strategy to achieve a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy.
Energy and natural resources
The European Commission Representation in Malta is pleased to publish the National Report of the latest Standard Eurobarometer Survey (EB82). The national report outlines the main findings of the survey that was carried out in November 2014. It covers a variety of topics which includes both personal and economic issues as well as the level of public trust in institutions and attitudes towards the EU.
Following a decision by the Board of Governors of the European Investment Bank (EIB) yesterday, small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) across Europe should be able to benefit from the first funds from the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) before the summer.
On Friday 30 January 2015, the European Commission Representation in Malta organised and seminar to launch a study on the impact and costs of road traffic in Malta. The study conducted by the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development of the University of Malta and supported by the Representation was presented to key stakeholders.
Transport and travel
For the first time since 2007, the economies of all European Union Member States are expected to grow again this year, according to the European Commission's winter forecast. Over the course of this year, economic activity is expected to pick up moderately in the EU and in the euro area, before accelerating further in 2016. Growth this year is forecast to rise to 1.7% for the EU as a whole and to 1.3% for the euro area. In 2016, annual growth should reach 2.1% and 1.9% respectively, on the back of strengthened domestic and foreign demand, very accommodative monetary policy and a broadly neutral fiscal stance.
Sephora Francalanza from G.F. Abela Junior College was one of the 28 winners of the European Union announced today by the European Commission. There were 28 sixth form students, one from each member state, who won the annual translation contest 'Juvenes Translatores' with over 3000 participants from 740 schools across the continent.
Pierre Mejlak, who recently received the European Union Prize for Literature, presented one of his short stories at the Biblioteca Europea in Rome, with the aim of providing an insight into contemporary Maltese literature. The short story was translated into Italian by Dolores Carnemolla and the event proved to be an ideal setting for a discussion about literary translation in the context of contemporary Maltese literature. It was also an opportunity to sample the sound and history of the Maltese language.
Member States have committed to achieve the Europe 2020 targets and have translated them into national targets. However, only if the individual efforts of all countries are coordinated and focused, can they result in the desired impact on jobs and growth.
On 19 January, the European Commission, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), is launching fi-compass, a new advisory service on financial instruments for the European Structural and Investment Funds. This service is part of the "one stop shop" advisory hub, to be launched as an important part of the EU Investment Plan.
Just 50 days after announcing its ambitious Investment Plan for Europe to boost jobs and growth, the European Commission yesterday adopted the legislative proposal for the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which will be established in close partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Fund is at the very heart of President Juncker's Investment Offensive, which will mobilise at least €315 billion in private and public investment across the European Union.
The European Commission has just launched a writing competition entitled 'So similar, so different, so European'. Young people from across Europe are invited to share their views in an article of max. 1000 words, on one or both of the following questions related to the enlargement of the European Union: 1) What is your experience in an enlarged European Union?; 2) How can the enlarged European Union meet the challenges of the future?
Today, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, presented a new Eurobarometer survey to mark the beginning of the European Year for Development. Figures show that the number of people who are in favour of increasing aid has gone up significantly, and Europeans continue to feel very positively about development and cooperation. 67% of respondents across Europe think that development aid should be increased – a higher percentage than in recent years, despite the economic situation. 85% believe that it is important to help people in developing countries.
Regions and local development
As 2015 begins, so does the European Year for Development (EYD2015) − a year dedicated to raising awareness, engaging Europeans everywhere in the EU’s development cooperation and sparking a debate around the motto ‘Our world, our dignity, our future’. The EYD2015 was proposed by the European Commission and unanimously adopted by the European Parliament and Council. It is an opportunity to showcase the strong commitment of the EU and its Member States to eradicating poverty worldwide.
External relations and foreign affairs
The European Commission today published a number of documents setting out EU proposals for legal text in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it is negotiating with the US. This is the first time the Commission has made public such proposals in bilateral trade talks. This initiative is meant to reflect the Commission's commitment to greater transparency in the negotiations.
Business, External relations and foreign affairs
Yesterday afternoon, the European Commission adopted its Work Programme for 2015 – setting out the actions the Commission intends to take over the next 12 months to make a real difference for jobs, growth and investment and bring concrete benefits for citizens. Citizens want less EU interference in their daily lives, especially where Member States are better placed to act and provide solutions. They expect the EU to make a difference on the big economic and social challenges, such as fighting unemployment and improving competitiveness.