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European Commission London Office weekly news round-up
Main news from Brussels this week
European Council summit
On 9 March, EU Heads of State and Government met to discuss the most pressing issues, including jobs, growth and competitiveness, security, migration and the situation in the Western Balkans. Leaders noted that for the first time in almost a decade, all 28 economies are expected to grow over the next 2 years. They agreed that this good outlook needs to be sustained by continued structural reform efforts and determined action to complete the single market. Leaders also underlined trade policy as one of the most powerful engines for growth. They also discussed migration, welcoming the Commission's action plan and recommendation on returns. President Juncker called for renewed efforts in implementing agreed solidarity measures, whilst leaders agreed they would strive to agree on the asylum policy reforms by June. President Juncker welcomed the re-election of Donald Tusk to serve a second term as European Council President for the period 1 June 2017 – 30 November 2019. The meeting is reconvening today (10 March) as an informal summit of 27 member states, discussing the future of Europe in preparation for the 60th anniversary summit in Rome on 25 March.
Latest Copernicus launch into space will improve services for farmers, fishermen and other users of land and sea maps
The latest addition to the EU's Copernicus system of Earth observation satellites will halve the time needed to provide precision data to benefit farmers, builders, fishermen and anyone who needs rapid access to up-to-the-minute information on conditions on the ground. Copernicus can now build up an image covering the entire planet in just five days, cutting by half the time needed to image the globe.
Commission fines six car air conditioning and engine cooling suppliers €155 million in cartel settlement
The European Commission has fined Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Panasonic, Sanden and Valeo a total of €155 million (£132m) for taking part in one or more of four cartels concerning supplies of air conditioning and engine cooling components to car manufacturers in the European Economic Area (EEA). All six suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. Denso was not fined for three of the cartels as it revealed their existence to the Commission. Panasonic was not fined for one of the cartels as it revealed its existence to the Commission.
New EU Commission portal for everyone to have their say on EU laws
The European Commission launched a new one-stop web page for citizens and stakeholders to have their say throughout the EU's policy-making cycle. Everyone can give feedback via the new page. This starts from the initial consultation stage. Business and members of the public can then continue to make input through to when the Commission makes formal legislative proposals and beyond that to the period when member states and MEPs are debating those proposals.
All this week's key European Commission announcements can be found here
EU and the UK
British researcher selected to mark EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions milestone
British social scientist David Parker is one of 30 highly promising researchers selected to showcase the EU's actions dedicated to excellence and worldwide mobility in research. The researchers were chosen to mark the one hundred thousandth fellow benefiting from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).
British-Croatian entrepreneur wins 2017 EU Prize for Women Innovators
British-Croatian entrepreneur Michela Magas has won first prize (€100.000) in the 2017 EU Women Innovators contest. Ms Magas is the founder of Stromatolite, a London-based Design Innovation Lab – with a studio in Sweden too – which builds a new generation of incubation and creative technology toolkits for innovation.
Michela Magas' speech on winning the prize
Security and defence 2017
In a speech at Chatham House on 6 March, EU Security Union Commissioner Sir Julian King said the UK and the EU face shared security threats which won't go away once the UK leaves the EU. He outlined what the EU is doing to tackle these threats such as:
- Revising the Schengen Border Code, to allow for systematic security checks on everyone entering the Schengen zone – including EU passport holders;
- Negotiating a new EU Entry/Exit System to reinforce border checks for third country nationals;
- The European wide Passenger Name Record system which will make it easier to detect the movements of foreign terrorists;
- Proposing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) in order to gather information on people travelling visa-free to the EU to allow for advance migration and security checks.
He concluded that it's in everyone's interest that the UK and the EU continue to cooperate closely on counter-terrorism and on countering cyberattacks. He added "we are better able to tackle these threats together."
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EU in the media this week
Every week, we pick out one of the week's most interesting stories or comment pieces….which does not mean we agree with everything it says:
Ending free movement from EU is no 'quick fix' for low wages, Lords say by Alan Travis in the Guardian
EU fact of the week
Women managers in the UK
Only around 1 manager out of 3 in the UK is a woman, earning a quarter less than a man. The figures are close to the EU average.
The largest share of women among managerial positions is in Latvia, the only member state where women are a majority (53%) in such roles. It is followed by Bulgaria and Poland (both 44%). At the opposite end of the scale, women account for less than a quarter of managers in Germany, Italy and Cyprus (all 22%). At EU level, about a third (35%) of managers are women.
Salaries also differ between women and men in managerial positions. In every EU member state, male managers earn more than female managers, albeit in different proportions. The gender pay gap in managerial positions is the narrowest in Romania (5%). In contrast, a female manager earns about a third less than her male counterpart in Hungary (33.7%) and Italy (33.5%).
Eurostat – the EU's statistical office – published the figures on 6 March, ahead of International Women's Day, celebrated on 8 March.
Tweet of the week
Quote of the week
"The winners of this year's EU Prizes for Women innovators are truly inspiring. Europe needs more women innovators like them, with great ideas and the courage and determination to take risks and succeed. The innovations that the four winners have brought from idea to market are remarkable not only from a business point of view but also because they will benefit and improve the lives of many people in Europe and beyond," Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
"It's a huge honour. […] I can only hope that we can create a network of women innovators here tonight. […] I am proud to represent the creative industries here today. It's a sector that is incredibly important for our economy and has impact across all sorts of other industries. […] I was inspired also by the judges […] and that was particularly for the fact that they emphasized the role of the female perspective in business," - Michela Magas in her speech at the EU Prize for Women innovators ceremony