Q&A – Eurobarometer survey on Antisemitism in Europe

Source: European Union

How is Antisemitism defined?
Antisemitism appears in many different forms and is not always easy to define. In 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a legally non-binding working definition of Antisemitism, which states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council all recognise this definition, as a useful guiding tool for civil society, law enforcement authorities and education facilities to effectively recognise and fight all forms of Antisemitism. The European Commission, in line with other international organisations, is actively using this definition in its work, in particular for education and training purposes. 
What has the Commission done to tackle Antisemitism?
In 2015, the first Fundamental Rights Colloquium was dedicated to combating Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of racism and intolerance. The Commission also appointed of the first European Commission Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism, as well as a Coordinator on Anti-Muslim Hatred. The key tasks of the coordinator have been to bring the concerns of the Jewish communities to the attention of the political level of the Commission, and help coordinate efforts across services in the context of the Commission’s overarching policy on racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.  
The increase of Antisemitism in Europe is particularly worrying in the online sphere, as today’s study shows. Since 2016 the Commission has worked intensively to tackle this challenge with the Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech. (see more details below)
In June 2016, the European Commission also launched the High Level Group on combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance to step up cooperation and coordination, to better prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech.  It brings together all 28 EU Member States, international organisations and civil society organisations. Through this network, the Commission is working on addressing the underreporting issue by improving standards for recording hate crime.
Quarterly roundtables with Jewish umbrella organisations and visits to the EU Member States have strengthened the collaboration with Jewish communities, international organisations, Member states authorities and NGOs.
On 29 November 2018, the EU acquired a Permanent International Partnership with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The participation of the EU in this international body will allow for closer cooperation on combating Holocaust denial and preventing racism, xenophobia and Antisemitism.
Holocaust remembrance, research and education are key to understanding the history of the founding of the EU. Through Horizon 2020, the EU has set-up the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) in the Netherlands. Its goal is to strengthen the network of European research on the Holocaust and contribute to a European perspective on the Holocaust.
Through funding of the Europe for citizens’ programme (annually EUR 3.5 million), remembrance of the Holocaust and Antisemitism during the 20th century, is kept alive. The 50th anniversary of the antisemitic purges by the Communist regime in Poland was a priority among the funding priorities for 2018. This project shed light on antisemitism under the guise of Antizionism that led to the expulsion of thousands of Polish Jews in 1968, many of them Holocaust survivors. Through operational grants the EU supported also the structures of Holocaust Memorials in the EU such as the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris. Further support is given through EU Structural Funds to support the Memorial site Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Jewish heritage in Europe is in need of protection in places where Jewish communities have been destroyed during the Holocaust. In the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, EUR 1 million are spent to protect 1600 Jewish cemeteries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Under the Rights, Equality and citizenship programme, tackling Antisemitism is a key funding ground. For instance, the European Commission funded the project “Facing all the facts” to tackle hate crime and hate speech online and develop training for law enforcement and improve hate crime monitoring. 
What were the key European policy achievements in the fight against Antisemitism in the last years?
A milestone was the endorsement by the European Commission of the non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. Several EU Member States (7 to date), cities, student organisations and education institutions have adopted and made use of the definition. Jewish communities and organisations fighting Antisemitism regard the endorsement and use of the definition as a key benchmark.
On 1 June 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on combating Antisemitism including the call for national special envoys, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of Antisemitism and increased efforts on local, national and European level.
Member States significantly scaled up their commitment to curbing rising Antisemitism. On 6 December 2018, Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of all 28 EU Member States adopted an “EU Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe” (see Commission statement). The declaration covers a wide range of areas in which action is needed. This includes calling on Member States to:
–      adopt national strategies to prevent and fight all forms of Antisemitism within their general strategies again racism;
–      adopt the IHRA definition;
–      ensure security of Jewish communities and to provide the necessary financing;
–      implement fully existing European legislation on racism and xenophobia;
–      promote education on the Holocaust and Jewish life today, including in integration courses for newcomers, and ensuring adequate training for teachers. 
What are the main findings from the Eurobarometer survey on Antisemitism?
Today, the European Commission is publishing the results of a Eurobarometer survey on Antisemitism. Interviews were carried out face-to-face with 27,643 people in 28 Member and respondents were asked about their perception of Antisemitism.
One of the most striking findings from the Eurobarometer is that perceptions among Europeans on Antisemitism are very divided. While every other European considers Antisemitism to be a problem in their country, 4 in 10 Europeans actually do not consider it to be an issue in their country.
The results of the survey show that there is a perception gap on Antisemitism: while 89% of Jews say that Antisemitism has significantly increased over the past 5 years, only 36% of the general public consider it has increased.
There are also significant differences in perception among Member States. People saying that Antisemitism is a problem is highest in countries with significant Jewish communities, and where physical attacks against the Jewish community have taken place, including Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, UK, and Belgium. Swedish (81%) and French (72%) respondents are the most likely to say that Antisemitism is a problem in their country. Both countries stand out with heightened perception throughout the survey.
Europeans with Jewish friends and acquaintances are more likely to be aware of the issues as well as increase in Antisemitism, as well as those who belong to a minority themselves.
Only 3% of Europeans feel ‘very well informed’ about Jewish history, customs and practices, and 68% say they are ‘not informed’.
The majority of Europeans (61%) know that there is a legislation criminalising incitement to violence or hatred against Jewish people in their country. Significantly less are aware of legislation criminalising Holocaust denial (42%). Holocaust denial is perceived as being a problem in their country by about half of Europeans (53%). On average, only 4 in 10 Europeans think the Holocaust is sufficiently taught in schools. Among people who finished their education earlier, this is only 3 in 10.The shorter the formal education, the more people feel it is not sufficiently taught. 
How does these results compare to the 2018 Fundamental Rights Agency’s survey on the perception and experience of Antisemitism among European Jews?
The Eurobarometer survey results show a significant discrepancy between the general public’s perceptions of Antisemitism compared with that of the Jewish community as shown by the December 2018 EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s survey on the perception and experiences of the Jewish community. Over 16,300 people responded to the Fundamental Rights Agency’s survey, which makes it the largest survey ever among Jewish communities on antisemitism, covering 12 countries which are home to 95% of European Jewish people.
Nine in 10 (89 %) Jews consider that antisemitism has increased in their country, with more than eight in 10 (85 %) considering it to be a serious problem. Jews around Europe rate Antisemitism as the biggest social or political problem where they live. Antisemitism hinders people’s ability to display freely their Jewish identity and live free from concerns for security and well-being.
The Eurobarometer results published today shows that there is clear perception gap of the problem of Antisemitism, with only 36% of the general public saying they think antisemitism has increased in the past five years. 
What does the European Union do to combat Antisemitism outside the EU?
Antisemitism also needs to be countered outside the European Union and the EU is committed to address it also in multilateral frameworks. In a joint initiative the EU, the United States, Canada and Israel organised the first United Nations (UN) High-Level seminar on combating antisemitism in 2016 and joint events have been taking place throughout the UN General Assembly. This initiative was followed-up in the 2018 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), when the EU together with the three countries co-organised a Campaign against Antisemitism in the UNGA. In 2018, the EU presented also a resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the UN General Assembly and at the Human Rights Council (March Session).
The annual High-level seminar on combating racism, xenophobia and antisemitism between the European Commission and the State of Israel is a unique forum that brings together civil servants, policymakers, academics and civil society to discuss best practices in addressing these problems.
The Commission has been working closely with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Human Rights office (ODIHR), participating in two conferences on Antisemitism. The Commission presented together with the OSCE/ODIHR in 2017 in Brussels a policy guide which addresses the security needs of the Jewish communities.
What does the European Commission do internally to promote combatting Antisemitism?
One of the key prevention tools is training. The Commission organises every year a dedicated training on unmasking modern anti-Semitism, which gives EU officials the possibility to confront conscious and unconscious biases in the institutions and daily work.
On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the European Commission holds annual staff trainings on the role of civil servants in bringing about the Holocaust. On that day, an exhibition highlighting certain aspects of the Holocaust is presented in Commission buildings, for instance on the Terezín concentration camp or on the Roma genocide, funded by the Europe for Citizens programme.
To celebrate Jewish life, for 13 years the Commission has been hosting an annual EuroChanukkah celebration in the Berlaymont, the European Commission headquarters.
What are the broader initiatives taken by the European Commission to tackle online hate speech and other forms of intolerance?
According to the 2018 Fundamental Rights Agency survey, Jews encounter antisemitic hate speech most often online. To counter illegal hate speech online, the European Commission concluded on 31 May 2016 a Code of Conduct with main IT-Companies (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft) in which they agreed to revise all relevant illegal hate speech flagged to them within 24 hours and remove it where necessary. Our third implementation report proved that significant progress has been made with a removal rate of 70% of illegal content and several more platforms joining the Code of Conduct (i.e. Instagram, Snapchat, Daily motion).
The Commission has stepped up efforts to ensure correct transposition of the Framework decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. Under this legislation incitement to hatred or violence and publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising the Holocaust, constitutes a punishable offence.
To support Member States’ and civil society’s efforts, the European Commission created the EU the High-Level Group on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance which helps to counter hate crime, including antisemitic hate crime by developing tools: i) improving recording of hate crimes, ii) ensuring support for hate crime victims and iii) hate crime training for law enforcement.
On 12 September 2018, the Commission proposed new rules to remove terrorist content from the web within one hour of order by a competent authority.
An action plan to protect public spaces was presented by the Commission in October 2017 with a focus on religious premises. Collaboration between Jewish community security and Commission services including the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator and Europol has been strengthened.


Commissioner Jourovà: Countering the old disease Antisemitism in Europe – ways forward

Source: European Union

Speech by Commissioner Jourovà, in charge of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, at the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels

Ms Director, 
Members of the Jewish community,
Members of the press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We could not have chosen a better place than the Jewish Museum here in Brussels for celebrating Jewish life, remembering the Shoah. Thank you, Ms. Director, for hosting us.
I am fully aware of the threat Antisemitism poses still today. While remembering the dead, we must also focus on the living.
We may take the presence of the Jewish communities in Europe for granted, as they ‘blend in’. But 74 years after the end of the Shoah, we know it is not a given. Your museum shows that the vibrant Jewish life we see in many European cities today comes close to a miracle. On a recent visit to Vienna, I was again struck by just how much the Jewish community formed the nucleus of the political, intellectual and artistic avant-garde in several European countries before the Second World War.
And I am pleased to learn that following the Austrian EU Presidency, the Romanian government will also place the fight against Antisemitism high on the agenda. After all, Romania, together with Poland, Hungary and my own country – Czechia – used to be hubs for Ashkenazi Jews.
The Nazis and their collaborators tried to extinguish Jewish life across Europe, by systematically killing six million members of the community. This is what we commemorate on Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, the day of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
It is thus not surprising that for almost all European Jews (95% to be precise), saying “the Holocaust is a myth or is being exaggerated” is seen as antisemitic. 

The Eurobarometer which we release today, reveals that of all the antisemitic expressions, denying the Holocaust is seen also by the general public as the most problematic, albeit by a significantly lower number, namely only one in two (53%).
The lower the education level, the lower the awareness. Education is key to not only understanding the Shoah as the abyss of humanity, but also to increasing awareness of Antisemitism and how it is still very much alive in Europe today. We need to be vigilant and recall the words of Primo Levi, the famous author and Holocaust survivor: “Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it”.
The fact that 9 out of 10 Jews in Europe today again perceive a rise in Antisemitism, as recently stated in a Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) survey, is Europe’s shame. And it stands in stark contrast to the perception of the problem among general public where two thirds do not perceive an increase of Antisemitism. Generally speaking, awareness is higher in countries with a large Jewish communities (Sweden, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium), where many people state that they have Jewish friends (like in Sweden 45%) or where attacks on the Jewish community have taken place that have been reported in the media.
In fact, 4 in 10 Jews (once again!) think about leaving Europe. When Jews have left Europe in the past, it has never been a good sign of the state of Europe. And I am – we are at the European Commission – determined to ensure a future for Jewish people on this continent; for the sake of the Jewish people and for the sake of Europe.
The European Community has translated “Never again” into law, into equality before the law, into non-discrimination, into criminalisation of incitement to hatred and violence and into the right to make life choices according to each of our traditions and beliefs. This is our Europe. This is the Europe I want to defend. 

I believe we all feel that the tone is generally becoming more cruel in public discourse. Over the past years we have initiated policies to address incitement to hatred and violence, including antisemitism.
Code of Conduct
Many internet users perceive an increase of hatred in social media. According to the FRA survey, Jews encounter antisemitic hate speech most often online. Hate crime often starts with hate speech. To counter illegal cyberhate, in May 2016 I concluded a Code of Conduct with main IT-Companies (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft). In two weeks (4th February), I will present the results of our fourth monitoring exercise, which will show that the Code is working in terms of removal rates and speed of removal. I am also pleased that more and more platforms are joining the Code of Conduct (Instagram, Snapchat, Daily motion).

New rules to remove terrorist content on-line
In September 2018, the Commission also proposed new rules to remove terrorist content from the web within one hour of order by a competent authority. I hope this legislation will be adopted swiftly by Parliament and Council.

Action Plan to protect public spaces
Security is a major issue for the Jewish community and, in fact, only one in two respondents of the FRA survey believe their governments respond adequately to the security needs of the Jewish community. I have said repeatedly that ensuring the security of all its citizens is the primary responsibility of the state and the costs for it must not be borne by individual communities. The Commission presented a dedicated action plan to protect public spaces in October 2017 with a focus on religious premises. Collaboration between Jewish community security and Commission services including the EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator and Europol have also been strengthened to improve the situation.

High Level Group on Racism and Xenophobia
Finally, we created the EU High-Level Group on racism and xenophobia in May 2016, which helps to counter hate crime, including antisemitic hate crime, by developing tools such as: i) improving recording of hate crimes, ii) ensuring support for hate crime victims and iii) hate crime training for law enforcement.

Beyond these measures in the context of our general strategy countering racism and xenophobia, we have taken concrete steps to counter antisemitism and we are continuously taking them further.

Appointment of Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism
Following the Fundamental Rights Colloquium in 2015, First Vice-President Timmermans and I appointed a Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism; to be a dedicated contact point for the Jewish communities and to help translate our determination into a meaningful fight against Antisemitism. Over the past years, several EU member states have appointed special envoys and in Germany even several regions (Länder) have done so. This is useful, given that many of the areas that we need to tackle are national or regional responsibilities.

Support to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition
I am convinced that Antisemitism cannot be defeated if it cannot be defined. Therefore, already in January 2017 I endorsed the IHRA working definition as a basis for our work on countering Antisemitism. The definition outlines the wide variety of ways in which antisemitism is expressed today: from traditional racist ideology, to conspiracy theories, left, right and centre, to antisemitism coming from within the Muslim community or hiding behind anti-Zionism. The FRA survey confirms that these examples are congruent with what the vast majority of respondents see as antisemitic.
I am pleased to see that the European Parliament adopted the definition in its Resolution on antisemitism in May 2017 and recommended its adoption to Member States. By now, seven Member States (United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria) have adopted it, as well as many universities, city councils and political parties. The working definition, though non-legally binding in its nature, is very helpful in public discourse as well as training for media, educators and public authorities, without impeding the legal right to freedom of speech. It can support those at the forefront, like law enforcement agencies and teachers, to discern the potentially antisemitic nature of an incident and thus improve victim support. 

All these activities provide us with an excellent basis to continue our work. However, it is no time for complacency and we should plan ahead. I strongly believe that combatting anti-Semitism should remain high on the political agenda.

This past December, Member States unanimously agreed a Council declaration to step up their fight against Antisemitism and to improve the security for Jewish communities across Europe. This is an important step forward.
This declaration must not remain an empty shell. It should rather become our guiding manual and a solid basis for concrete action. In order for change to happen on the ground, we must all work together on European, national and regional level. My hope would be that by joining all our forces, we will see a decrease of Antisemitism among European Jews when FRA next surveys their views, some 5 or 6 years down the road.

Creation of an expert group
In the declaration, I see four key areas that we should tackle together with member states:
1) security of Jewish communities and premises,
2) education and Holocaust remembrance,
3) increasing the awareness of Antisemitism as a problem by making use of the IHRA definition and better data collection of Antisemitic incidents, also beyond hate crime and
4) supporting the development of national strategies.

We already have good practices in several member states, and the Commission can – and should – be instrumental in ensuring that that these practices are shared to encourage and inspire more action on the ground.
With the High-level Member States expert group against racism and xenophobia which I mentioned earlier, we already have a platform that brings all countries together. There is an urgent need to step up our action on antisemitism within this group, in view of the recent data available at EU level.
Therefore I want to announce today that I will ask my services to set up a working group focused on the ‘Implementation of the Declaration on Antisemitism’ as part of this forum. This will provide a mechanism to provide active support to Member States to make concrete progress in this area.
We hope to harness the informal network of national special envoys to help us with this task. I would like to see concrete results from the work of this group by the end of 2020 with a view to adopting  national action plans against antisemitism. My intention is to propose this idea at the next meeting of the High-level group on Racism and Xenophobia in March.

IHRA PIP status
As said earlier, learning from the Holocaust and remembering the victims is at the core of the European project. I am pleased that the European Union acquired Permanent International Partnership with International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance this past November. This will allow the European institutions to liaise even closer with one of the most important European organisation on Holocaust remembrance.
The Commission will actively participate, contribute and benefit from this new status with IHRA. To this end we will create within the European Commission a network of colleagues from relevant Commission services in the course of 2019.

Stimulating more projects to tackle antisemitism
I also believe that we need to put our money where our mouth is. So, for 2019 within the Rights, Citizenship and Equality Programme we have made projects a priority that tackle antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred in innovative ways, that foster Jewish life or engage in coalition building with other communities. I encourage you to keep an eye out for this call, which will be launched on 31 January by DG JUSTICE.

Youth report
Finally, I believe we need to understand better how young people perceive Antisemitism. I have heard more than once from Jewish people of my generation ‘I will stay, but I tell my children leave’. We have cooperated with the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) to ensure a solid response rate among people 16-25 years of age to the Fundamental Rights Agency’s (FRA) survey. I would like to thank the EUJS for their support and am pleased to let you know that in the coming months we will issue an analysis focusing on the perception of Antisemitism among young European Jews.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 
The European Union was built on the values of respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We have the obligation to protect and strengthen the richness of Jewish culture and diversity and its contribution to Europe. With all these initiatives, I sincerely hope that the efforts countering Antisemitism advanced by this Commission will become a turning point for the Jewish people in Europe.
Jewish people should never again have to ask themselves whether they or their children have a future in Europe. They should never have to question whether the authorities will stand on their side to guarantee their safety. Nobody should ever be afraid to go to a synagogue or wear a kippah in the European Union.


Antitrust: Commission fines Mastercard €570 million for obstructing merchants’ access to cross-border card payment services

Source: European Union

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “European consumers use payment cards every day, when they buy food or clothes or make purchases online. By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other Member States, Mastercard’s rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the EU.”
Mastercard is the second largest card scheme in the European Economic Area (EEA) in terms of consumer card issuing and value of transactions. Under the MasterCard scheme, banks offer card payments-related services under common card brands, Mastercard and Maestro. Mastercard acts as a platform through which issuing banks provide cardholders with payment cards, ensure the completion of the card payment transaction and transfer funds to the retailer’s bank.
Card payments play a key role in the Single Market, both for domestic transactions and for payments across borders or over the internet. European consumers and businesses make more than half of their non-cash payments through cards.
When a consumer uses a debit or credit card in a shop or online, the bank of the retailer (the “acquiring bank”) pays a fee called an “interchange fee” to the cardholder’s bank (the “issuing bank”). The acquiring bank passes this fee on to the retailer who includes it, like any other cost, in the final prices for all consumers, even those who do not use cards.
Mastercard’s rules obliged acquiring banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where the retailer was located. Prior to 9 December 2015, when the Interchange Fee Regulation introduced caps, interchange fees varied considerably from one country to another in the EEA. As a result, retailers in high-interchange fee countries could not benefit from lower interchange fees offered by an acquiring bank located in another Member State.
In April 2013, the Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation against Mastercard to assess whether these rules on ‘cross-border acquiring’ were in breach of EU antitrust rules. In July 2015, the Commission issued a Statement of Objections.
The Commission investigation found that because of Mastercard’s cross-border acquiring rules retailers paid more in bank services to receive card payments than if they had been free to shop around for lower-priced services. This led to higher prices for retailers and consumers, to limited cross-border competition and to an artificial segmentation of the Single Market.
On this basis, the Commission concluded that Mastercard’s rules prevented retailers from benefitting from lower fees and restricted competition between banks cross border, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The infringement ended when Mastercard amended its rules in view of the entry into force of the Interchange Fee Regulation.
As a result, the Commission decided to impose a fine on Mastercard.

Cooperation with Mastercard
Mastercard cooperated with the Commission by acknowledging the facts and the infringements of EU competition rules.
The Commission granted Mastercard a 10% fine reduction in return for this cooperation.Further information on this type of cooperation can be found on the Commission’s Competition website.

The fine was set on the basis of the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines on fines (see IP/06/857 release and MEMO/06/256). In setting the level of fines, the Commission took into account several factors, including the value of sales relating to the infringement, the gravity of the infringement and its duration, as well as the fact that Mastercard cooperated with the Commission during the investigation.
The fine imposed by the Commission on Mastercard amounts to €570 566 000.

The Commission concluded that Mastercard’s rules until 9 December 2015 infringed Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits agreements between companies or decisions by an association of undertakings that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU’s Single Market.
The Commission takes the view that Mastercard and its licensees (who issue Mastercard and branded cards to cardholders or acquire transactions with those cards for retailers) together form an association of undertakings.
More information on this investigation is available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case number AT.40049.
Interchange Fee Regulation
As of 9 December 2015, the Interchange Fee Regulation capped interchange fees in the European Economic Area (EEA) to a maximum of 0.2% of the transaction’s value for debit cards and 0.3% of the transaction’s value for credit cards. Before that, these fees varied considerably from one country to another in the EEA.
Since the entry into force of the Regulation, retailers pay a reduced domestic or cross-border interchange fee, which brings retailers’ costs down considerably.

Ongoing investigation concerning Mastercard
In the Statement of Objections addressed to Marstercard in 2015, the Commission also outlined its preliminary view that Mastercard’sinterchange fees applied to payments made in EEA with consumer debit and credit cards issued outside the EEA (“Inter-regional MIFs”) may breach EU antitrust rules.
The Commission is concerned that such fees applied by Mastercard may anti-competitively increase prices for European retailers accepting payments from cards issued outside the EEA and in turn lead to higher prices for consumer goods and services in the EEA. That part of the case is still pending.
In December 2018, the Commission invited comments from interested parties on commitments offered separately by Visa and Mastercard to address the Commission’s competition concerns relating to inter-regional interchange fees for card payment transactions.
Previous Commission actions
Today’s decision is the latest in a series of Commission’s actions reducing card fees for merchants:
In December 2007, the Commission found that Mastercard’s interchange fees on cross-border transactions in the EEA (e.g. when a Belgian citizen uses his card to pay in a shop in France) restrict competition between banks. In September 2014, the Commission’s findings were confirmed by the Court of Justice.
In 2009, to comply with the Commission’s 2007 decision, Mastercard reduced the (intra-EEA) cross-border interchange fees applied by its member banks to maximum weighted averages of 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards.
In December 2010 and February 2014, the Commission also adopted decisions making legally binding commitments offered by Visa Europe (the former Visa scheme association of banks in Europe) to cap at the same levels (0.2% and 0.3%) the interchange fees for all intra-EEA debit and credit card transactions. The 2014 commitments also allowed acquirers to apply a reduced cross-border interchange fee (0.2% for debit and 0.3% for credit) for cross-border clients.
In April 2015, the EU’s Council of Ministers and the European Parliament adopted the Interchange Fee Regulation, which from 9 December 2015 capped interchange fees for cards issued and used in Europe (maximum of 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards). The Interchange Fee Regulation established a level playing field for the card payments in the intra-EEA transactions market as a whole. However, the caps of the Interchange Fee Regulation do not apply to inter-regional transactions (i.e. those involving cards issued outside the EEA), as the Regulation does not apply to cards issued outside the EEA.

Action for damages
Any person or company affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages. The case law of the Court and Council Regulation 1/2003 both confirm that in cases before national courts, a Commission decision constitutes binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal. Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without being reduced on account of the Commission fine.
The Antitrust Damages Directive, which Member States had to transpose into their legal systems by 27 December 2016, makes it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages. More information on antitrust damages actions, including a practical guide on how to quantify antitrust harm, is available here.

Whistleblower tool
The Commission has set up a tool to make it easier for individuals to alert it about anti-competitive behaviour while maintaining their anonymity. The tool protects whistleblowers’ anonymity through a specifically-designed encrypted messaging system that allows two way communications. The tool is accessible via this link.


Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete – speech for Post-COP24 High Level Debate

Source: European Union

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here with you today – and I would like to thank the Polish Electricity Association, and the Polish Permanent Representation, for hosting this event following COP24 in Katowice, just over 1 month ago.
2018 was a crucial year for climate action and energy issues, both globally and in Europe. And this year will be just as important.
Today, I would like to look back at the European Union’s climate and energy agenda in 2018 and set out the prospects for 2019.
But first, some reflections on the vital steps taken in Katowice, under the excellent guidance of the Polish COP Presidency, led by my friend Michał Kurtyka. Thank you once again for your fine leadership, Michał.
The invitation to this event summed it up well: COP24 has brought the Paris Agreement to life. This is what we aimed for in Katowice, what was needed. And a successful outcome was not guaranteed, but we achieved it.
In 2015, we agreed to finalise by 2018 the rules and guidelines needed to enable the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
So the EU went to COP24 with one key objective: to adopt an ambitious, clear and comprehensive rulebook that will enable countries round the world to implement the Paris Agreement on the ground.
In the past few years, we have increasingly seen climate change impacts hurting people and communities worldwide.
We arrived in Katowice with a very clear set of warnings from the world’s scientists. The IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees told us unequivocally: unless we act urgently and collectively now, much worse is to come.
The stakes were very high, and the negotiations were difficult at times. Paris is, after all, an unprecedented multilateral accord.
In Katowice, we were not negotiating a new international treaty – rather the ‘manual’ for global implementation of the goals. Not an easy task either.
We overcame some very difficult issues to reach a good outcome, a solid balanced deal, which preserves the ambition of 2015.
We adopted common rules and guidelines in all key areas: mitigation, adaptation, finance, and we agreed a universal transparency and accountability system.
But the adoption of the rulebook was not without last-hour hiccups. It is no secret that a disagreement with Brazil of the markets chapter of the rulebook led the end of the meeting to be delayed by more than 24 hours, with the Polish presidency trying to broker an agreement on how to take the negotiation forward.

The agreement of that chapter was deferred to the next COP. This is the reason why I intend to host a major international carbon markets conference here in Brussels in the spring to come to an understating of the rules, challenges and prospects of international carbon trading. An understanding that respects the environmental integrity of the system.
The success of Katowice was thanks to the leadership and determination of many. Not least the Polish COP Presidency, and the ‘High Ambition Coalition’ made up of the EU and many like-minded allies. Europe showed once again that we will not back down in the climate battle.
As well as the Paris rulebook, COP24 was also about taking stock of the collective progress towards our long-term goals.
In Katowice, IPCC scientists presented the findings of the special report, setting out how the world could achieve 1.5 degrees. We were shown that the world has the means to act, but we need serious political will.
We also had the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue, an extremely valuable and productive conversation on ambition. It allowed us to have a first informal ‘stocktake’, ahead of the formal stocktakes starting in 2023.
The EU contributed very actively in Talanoa and the IPCC discussions. The COP decisions on both, fought hard by the EU, provide an important momentum for continuing the ambition conversation, throughout 2019 and beyond.
I would now like to give you a brief outlook of this year’s international climate agenda.
Our regular international climate negotiations under the UNFCCC will continue in 2019, with the next UN climate summit – ‘COP25′ – in Chile.
As I said before, we will still have some work to finalise at COP25, in particular the rules and modalities for international carbon markets and trading.
Outside the UNFCCC, UN Secretary General Guterres, who was deeply involved in deliberations at COP24, is preparing for the 2019 Climate Summit in September, in New York. This will be an important political opportunity to mobilise climate action, with many world leaders expected to attend.
Preparations are also underway for this year’s G20 summit in Japan in June, and the G7 summit in France in August. Both summits, and ministerial meetings leading up to them in which I will participate, could be important drivers of political momentum on climate action.
The German government is also expected to host a new ‘Petersberg Dialogue’ in May, to continue informal ministerial talks on stepping up global implementation of the Paris climate goals.
And we are working towards organising the third Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action, with our partners China and Canada, this time in May in China.
Let me now turn to our domestic action. As you know, the EU has just taken a big first step towards its own long-term climate strategy, with the Commission’s strategic vision for a climate neutral Europe.
I will shortly explain what comes next on the strategy – but first I would like to reflect on all that the EU achieved last year, for our 2030 climate and energy goals.
Once the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2016, we quickly moved our focus to delivering at home: to putting in place an economy-wide framework of climate and energy policies, to ensure we deliver on our Paris commitment for 2030 to reduce our GHG emissions by at least 40%.
This was no easy task, but thanks to the hard work, determination and cooperative spirit of everyone involved in the EU policy-making process – we did it. In 2018, we finalised all key legislation for our 2030 objectives.

For climate legislation, we had already finalised in 2017 the very important modernisation of our Emissions Trading System.
And the results speak from themselves today: the carbon price jumped to over 23 euros, and according to recent survey of analysts polled by Reuters, EU allowances are expected to average 27.00 euros/tonne in 2019 and 32.83 euros/tonne in 2020.
We also agreed on 2030 targets for all EU Member States to cut emissions in sectors not covered by the ETS, under the ‘Effort Sharing Regulation’.
And we agreed to integrate emissions from land use and forestry into our 2030 framework, to ensure they are offset by at least an equivalent removal of CO2.
Another vital component of our climate and energy framework is low-emission mobility.
Since 2016, the Commission has put forward a range of proposals to modernise and decarbonise road transport, the only EU sector where emissions are still rising.
In December, political agreement was reached on new CO2 emission standards for cars and vans, for post-2020. I welcome the endorsement of the agreement by Member States at COREPER last Wednesday.
The agreed compromise text is ambitious and balanced, with a combination of binding targets and sufficient incentives – to allow a gradual but firm transition towards zero-emission mobility over the coming decade.
And negotiations are advancing well on the Commission proposal to set the first-ever CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles in Europe. I will be going to the second trilogue taking place later in evening.
Both regulations will bring benefits for the climate, citizens and businesses across Europe, and will ensure the EU automotive industry stays at the forefront of clean vehicle innovation globally. They will also help Member States meet their 2030 emission targets.
So I urge the Parliament and Council to seek an agreement on the HDV proposal before the end of this legislative term, as this will mean all our climate and energy legislation for 2030 will be in place – sending a clear signal to investors, and cementing the EU’s global climate leadership.

And for our energy objectives, which go hand-in-hand with our emissions goals, 2018 brought serious results.
We secured political agreements on all 8 legislative proposals of our Clean Energy for All Europeans package, taking the EU a step closer to delivering the Energy Union.– ensuring that Europe has secure, affordable and sustainable energy.
With these new EU rules, we are providing a clear and stable legal framework for the coming years which will stimulate innovation and encourage the necessary investment.
We have thus in place the most advanced regulatory framework in the world and many of our partners, including the most developed countries, are looking in our direction for references. It put the EU in the lead in terms of rules to accelerate and facilitate the clean energy transition.
Already four of the 8 new pieces of legislation have come into force: – revisions to the existing directives on energy efficiency, renewables, and energy performance in buildings – to make them fit for the challenges we face; and a new governance regulation, which I will come to shortly.
These include new headline EU targets for 2030 – at least 32% for renewables and 32.5% for energy efficiency – with a review clause for possible upward revision in 2023.
These ambitious targets go beyond what was originally proposed – reflecting the speed of technological change, the reduction of costs, and the need for Europe to show ambition and leadership in the fight against climate change.
 Implementation of these ambitious targets should, in turn, result in an emission reduction of around 45%, we have estimated – above our 40% commitment under Paris. With this level of ambition, we can help drive innovation, and the EU can continue to show leadership to the rest of the world in the fight against global warming.
The new European Performance in Buildings Directive is also important – aimed at accelerating the rate of renovation, bearing in mind that 35% of the housing stock is at least 50 years old. With the building sector accounting for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions, we need to do more.
And we finished 2018 with another important deal in late in December, decision-makers also reached provisional political agreement on new rules for the EU’s electricity market design.
These new rules are a cornerstone of the Clean Energy for all Europeans package. They will allow a better connected, more flexible electricity market, which will facilitate the integration of more renewables. This will thus ensure the cost-effective decarbonisation of the electricity system.
Indeed the share of electricity coming from renewables is expected to exceed 50% by 2030, compared to the 30.2% at present. This will contribute to the EU’s goal of being the world leader in energy production from renewable energy sources.
Consumers will also be at the centre of the new energy system, with new rules allowing them to become active in the market, while at the same time better protecting them.
Besides, I am particularly pleased that we agreed on a balanced approach on capacity mechanisms which reconciles security of supply with our climate and clean energy transition objectives. The agreement will avoid capacity mechanisms being used as a backdoor subsidy for high-polluting fossil fuels – while respecting existing commitments.

One other element of the package, as I mentioned before, is the Regulation on the governance of the Energy Union and climate action.
A crucial change here is that Member states now have to establish integrated National Energy & Climate Plans for the period 2021-2030, in order to show how they can meet the 2030 targets. This will ensure transparent long-term planning and also improve coherence and predictability for investors.
The Plans will also be key for ensuring we meet our national and EU targets for 2030 – and they must also look to mid-century, and are complemented by Member State long term strategies, taking into account our long-term strategy which I will talk about in a minute.
The Commission asked all Member States to submit their draft National Plan by the end of 2018.
I’m pleased to be able to confirm today that 21 of the Member States have now submitted their draft national plans.

I urge the remaining few Member States to finalise and submit their draft plans as soon as possible.

The Commission has already begun assessing the draft Plans, and this process will continue in the coming months, in regular consultation with the Member States.
 This should allow us to provide Member States with recommendations by the end of June. We will look at ways in which neighbouring countries or groups of countries can avoid duplication and above all find synergies so that we can achieve these targets more efficiently. For me, this is a great example of European added-value – and one of the major benefits from the package as a whole.  
Following our recommendations, Member States will then have until the end of 2019 to finalise the National Plans.

So, for our 2030 climate and energy framework, 2019 will be a year of finalisation and implementation. But this year we will also move forward on our long-term strategy.
As you know, the Commission put forward our strategic vision for a climate-neutral EU last November.
This allowed us to present our vision at COP24 in Katowice, where it was very well-received by our global partners, and stakeholders too.
Our vision examines all sectors of the economy, setting out pathways towards a truly low-carbon future.
The EU should aim to become a net-zero-emission economy by 2050, because this will ensure sustainable growth, jobs and a better quality of life for all citizens.
This is not a legislative proposal, it’s a starting point for EU-wide reflection and debate. It starts a process that should enable the EU to adopt a long-term strategy in 2020.
This is important, because Parties to the Paris Agreement are invited to submit new or updated nationally determined contributions by the end of 2020 – so that is our intention.
So what’s next? In the coming months, the Commission will conduct extensive outreach with all EU policymakers, and stakeholders in and outside Europe. Only in this way we can get strong endorsement of an ambitious strategy.
Starting next month, I and my team will be visiting many Member States, to meet with governments, national parliaments and citizens, to present our strategic vision.
EU governments will also start discussing the strategy in all Council configurations – Environment, Energy, Transport, Agriculture – because this is not only a climate strategy, but a strategy to modernise the whole economy.
This should allow EU leaders to reflect on the long-term strategy at the Sibiu Summit on the 9th of May.
In parallel, discussions are underway in the European Parliament. MEPs are expected to adopt a position on the strategy in March, and this will likely be picked up by the new Parliament, which may adopt an updated position after it starts its mandate.
Throughout 2019, we will also engage outside Europe – especially with our partners in the G20, as we together account for such a large share of global emissions.
Europe is the first major economy to start the process towards a long-term climate strategy, and we hope to inspire others to do similarly, as soon as possible. We want to lead, but can only do so if others follow.

Ladies and gentlemen,
To conclude, I would like to update you on a vital EU tool for climate action for the coming years: the next long-term EU budget, for 2021-2027.
As you know, the Commission has proposed an overall spending target of 25% on climate-related objectives. This would amount to some 320 billion euros over the 7 years.
This would be yet another concrete display of the EU’s commitment to do our share under the Paris Agreement.
Along with the headline figure, our proposal also means specific investments in areas that are key for implementing EU climate and energy policy – infrastructure, research, helping SMEs, (land use).
And we also propose expanding the scope and budget of the LIFE Programme, dedicated to environment and climate action.
EU decision-makers are now stepping up negotiations on this future budget. Progress must be swift in the coming months, to ensure a comprehensive agreement by the autumn – and I urge the Council and Parliament to ensure a climate target of at least 25.
I have to say that when we kicked off this Commission back in 2014, I never thought we could accomplish so much, both internationally and domestically. It’s been a ride!
And it is both, internationally and domestically, as he has had these two capacities, that Mr. Kurtyka has been instrumental in making Europe a serious, committed climate and energy player.
For that, dear Michal, I thank you. And I thank you all for your attention.


Mergers: Commission approves BASF’s acquisition of Solvay’s nylon business, subject to conditions

Source: European Union

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Nylon is used in many different types of products, not only textile or carpets but also in car components, to make them lighter and more environmentally friendly. Our decision willallow for the creation of a significant European player in this market because the commitments offered by BASF and Solvay ensure that the merger will not lead to higher prices or less choice for European businesses and, ultimately, consumers.”
Today’s decision follows an in-depth review of the proposed transaction. The proposed transaction involves Solvay and BASF, two companies active in the nylon industry, where both manufacture nylon compounds and nylon fibres.
Nylon compounds are used in a wide range of applications, particularly in the automotive and electronics industries, due to their light weight and good thermal resistance. They are among the advanced materials used to develop lighter cars which produce less noxious emissions. Nylon fibres are used in particular for clothing and sportswear. The manufacture of nylon compounds and nylon fibres requires as a key input Adiponitrile (“ADN”), an oil derivative.
BASF and Solvay have dominant or strong market positions throughout the nylon value chain, and in particular the value chain of a type of nylon called “nylon 6.6”.

The Commission’s investigation
Following its in-depth market investigation, the Commission identified the following competition concerns with the transaction as originally notified:
It would lead to a reduction of the number of suitable suppliers and likely price increases in a number of markets related to the nylon industry in the European Economic Area (EEA): the markets for ADN, a key upstream input for the nylon 6.6 value chain, but also hexamethylene diamine, adipic acid, hexamethylenediamine adipate salt, nylon 6.6 base polymer, nylon 6.6 engineering plastics and nylon 6 3D printing powder.
Due to the limited number of suppliers of intermediate products, the merged entity would also have the ability and incentive to restrict its competitors’ access to essential inputs including ADN, hexamethylene diamine, adipic acid, hexamethylenediamine adipate salt, and nylon 6.6 base polymer in the EEA.
In addition, there was no indication that the existing level of competition could be maintained by new entrants because of high barriers to entry in these markets. In particular, access to essential inputs is limited and critical to be able to compete effectively.

The commitments
To address the Commission’s competition concerns, BASF and Solvay offered the following commitments:
The divestiture of Solvay’s facilities at Belle-Etoile and Valence (France), Gorzow (Poland), and Blanes (Spain) to a single suitable buyer. These facilities produce hexamethylene diamine, hexamethylenediamine adipate salt, nylon 6.6 base polymer, nylon 6.6 engineering plastics and nylon 6 3D printing powder.
The creation of a production joint venture in Chalampé (France) between the merged entity and the buyer of the divested assets, for the production of adipic acid.
Long-term supply agreements for ADN to meet the divestment business’ requirements.
The commitments fully remove the overlap between BASF and Solvay in the markets where the Commission had identified competition concerns.
Therefore, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified by the commitments, would no longer raise competition concerns in the EEA. The Commission’s decision is conditional upon full compliance with the commitments.

Companies and products
BASF, headquartered in Germany, is a large diversified chemical company active in a range of sectors including chemicals, performance products, functional materials and solutions, agricultural solutions and oil & gas.
Solvay, headquartered in Belgium, is a global manufacturer of chemicals and plastics. It is the only manufacturer in the EEA active at all levels of the nylon 6.6 value chain.

Merger control rules and procedures
The transaction was notified to the Commission on 22 May 2018.
The Commission has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds (see Article 1 of the Merger Regulation) and to prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.
The vast majority of notified mergers do not pose competition problems and are cleared after a routine review. From the moment a transaction is notified, the Commission generally has a total of 25 working days to decide whether to grant approval (Phase I) or to start an in-depth investigation (Phase II).
There are currently six on-going phase II merger investigations: the proposed acquisition by Vodafone of Liberty Global’s business in Czechia, Germany, Hungary and Romania, the proposed acquisition of VDM by Aperam, the proposed acquisition of Whirlpool’s refrigeration compressor business by Nidec, the proposed creation of a joint venture by Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp, the proposed acquisition of Aurubis Rolled Products and Schwermetall by Wieland, and the proposed acquisition of Alstom by Siemens.
More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8674.


CALENDRIER du 21 janvier au 27 janvier 2019

Source: European Union

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)Déplacements et visites
Lundi 21 janvier 2019
Foreign Affairs Council
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives the “Europa-Leitbild” of the regional Government of Baden-Württemberg from Mr Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg.
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Mário Centeno, President of the Eurogroup and Minister of Finance of Portugal.
Ms Federica Mogherini chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels.
Ms Federica Mogherini co-chairs the EU – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting, in Brussels.
Ms Federica Mogherini co-chairs the EU – African Union Ministerial Meeting, in Brussels.
Mr Maroš Šefčovič chairs the trilateral gas talks between Russia and Ukraine, in Brussels.
Mr Maroš Šefčovič hosts a dinner meeting with the foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in Brussels.
Mr Valdis Dombrovskis receives Mr Grant Robertson, Minister for Finance of New Zealand.
Mr Valdis Dombrovskis receives Ms Nadia Calviño, Minister for Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain.
Mr Jyrki Katainen in Davos, Switzerland (until 24/01): attends the World Economic Forumand The Circulars awards ceremony. 
Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Pavlo Klimkin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Mohamed Taher Siala, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Libya.
Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Mr Johannes Hahn receives Mr Consuelo Rumi, State Secretary for Migration Affairs of Spain.
Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Pavlo Klimkin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia.
Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar.
Mr Miguel Arias Cañete receives representatives of the Transport & Environment organisation.
Mr Karmenu Vella in Davos, Switzerland: attends the World Economic Forumand The Circulars awards ceremony. 
Ms Marianne Thyssen participates in the Launch event of the final report of the Flemish Skills Strategy, in company of Mr Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation, Scientific Policy and Sport, and Ms Hilde Crevits, Flemish Minister for education and training, at the Flemish Parliament, in Brussels.
M. Pierre Moscovici reçoit des étudiants de l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris.
Mr Phil Hogan in Cairo, Egypt: meets Mr Sameh Hassan Shoukry Selim, Minister for Foreign Affairs; meets Mr Ezz el-Din Abu-Steit, Minister for Agriculture and Land Reclamation; meets Mr Amr Adel Nassar, Minister for Industry and Trade.
Ms Vĕra Jourová attends a meeting of the European electoral cooperation network, in Brussels.
Ms Vĕra Jourová speaks at the conference “Technology and Democratic freedoms: moving forward with new laws” organised by Microsoft, in Brussels.
Mr Tibor Navracsics in Balatonfüred, Hungary: participates in and speaks at the celebrations organised for the National Day of Hungarian Culture.
Ms Corina Creţu in Bucharest, Romania: attends the Conference of Parliamentary Committee for Union affairs of Parliaments of the EU (COSAC) – “Increase cohesion and ensure convergence through the Multiannual Financial Framework post-2020 tools”.
Ms Margrethe Vestager in Paris, France: meets representatives of the Alstom trade unions; gives a keynote speech at the Youth and Leaders’ Summit at Science Po; provides introductory remarks at the European American press club event.
Mr Carlos Moedas participe à un déjeuner de travail avec les membres de « Françaises D’Europe – Réseau des cadres françaises de l’administration européenne », à Bruxelles.
Mardi 22 janvier 2019
Economic and Financial Affairs Council
President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers a speech at the signing ceremony of the Aachen Treaty between Germany and France, in Aachen, Germany.
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Ms Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia.
President Jean-Claude Juncker holds a joint press point with Ms Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia.
Mr Frans Timmermans in Auschwitz, Poland; visits Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Mr Frans Timmermans in Krakow, Poland;meets Mr Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow.
Ms Federica Mogherini chairs the EU-African Union Ministerial Meeting, in Brussels.
Ms Federica Mogherini co-chairs the Informal EU- Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Ministerial Meeting, in Brussels.
Mr Andrus Ansip receives theFibre to the Home (FTTH) Council Europe; and meets a group of their CEOs: Erzsebet Fitori, Director General, FTTH Council Europe; Aurelie Bladocha Coelho, Director Communications & Public Affairs, FTTH Council Europe; Jacopo Bellelli, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, FTTH Council Europe; Christian Emborg, CEO of DKT; Philippe Vanhille, Senior VP Telecom of Prysmian; Franco Bassanini, President of Open Fiber; Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Open Fiber; Morgan Kurk, COO of Commscope; Uwe Nickl, CEO of Deutsche Glasfaser.
Mr Maroš Šefčovič delivers a keynote speech at the 11th Conference on European Space Policy for Europe, European Space in the World, in Brussels.
Mr Jyrki Katainen in Davos, Switzerland: meets Mr Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce of the United States of America; Mr Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Carlsberg Group; and Mr Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of partnerships at Element AI.
Mr Günther H. Oettinger delivers speech on EU Budget at the event hosted by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), in Brussels.
Mr Johannes Hahn receives Ms Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia.
Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia.
Ms Cecilia Malmström receives Mr Ștefan-Radu Oprea, Minister for Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship of Romania.
Mr Neven Mimica participates in the “African Union – European Union” Ministerial Meeting, in Brussels.
Mr Miguel Arias Cañete participates in the Post-COP24 High Level Debate organised by the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the EU and Polish Electricity Association, in Brussels.
Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives representatives of the rabbit products sector from France (Comité Lapin interprofessionnel pour la promotion des produits).
Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos receives Mr Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Gambia.
Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos receives Ms Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia.
Mr Phil Hogan meets Mr Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia, in Brussels.
Mr Phil Hogan receives Board Members of the Spanish Wine Federation (Federación Española del Vino).
Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska participates in the 11th Space Conference on European Space Policy, in Brussels.
Ms Vĕra Jourová delivers a speech at the conference ” Is Antisemitism on the rise in Europe and what can we do about it?” organised at the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Brussels.
Ms Vĕra Jourová receives Mr Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap Inc.
Ms Vĕra Jourová receives Ms Maya Manolova, Ombudsman of Bulgaria.
Ms Corina Creţu receives Mr Nikos Papas, Minister for Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information of Greece.
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives directors of European concert halls: Iván Fischer, Hungarian conductor and composer; Paul Dujardin, Chief Executive Officer, Bozar, Brussels; Prof. Sebastian Nordmann, Intendant, Konzerthaus Berlin; Simon Reinink, General Director, Concertgebouw Amsterdam; Laurent Bayle, President, Philharmonie Paris; Louwrens Langevoort, President, European Concert Hall Organisation.
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives Mr Bogdan Matei, Minister for Youth and Sport of Romania
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives Mr Pedro Duque, Minister for Science, Innovation and Universities of Spain.
Ms Margrethe Vestager receives the European Parliament candidates from Denmark’s Socialist People’s Party (Greens).
Ms Margrethe Vestager receives Mr Pierre Gramegna, Minister for Finance of Luxembourg.
Mr Carlos Moedas in Davos, Switzerland (until 25/1): participates in the World Economic Forum.
Mr Julian King in Lille, France: participates in the International Security Forum (FIC) 2019.
Ms Mariya Gabriel receives Mr Pekka Ala-Pietilä, Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence; receives Mr Evan Spiegel, CEO and Founder of Snap Inc.; receives Ms Marie-Béatrice Levaux, President of the European Federation for Family Employment (EFFE); receives Mr Nikos Pappas, Greek Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications & Media; addresses, as guest speaker the 11th European Space Policy Conference; delivers a speech at the kick-off of the Women4Cyber initiative by the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO).
Mercredi 23 janvier 2019
College meeting
President Jean-Claude Juncker, together with the College of Commissioners, receives Mr Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission for a working lunch.
Mr Frans Timmermans in Krakow, Poland;participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue.
Ms Federica Mogherini receives Ms Salome Zurabishvili, President of Georgia.
Mr Andrus Ansip receives Dr. Andrea Jelinek, Chair of the European Data Protection Board.
Mr Jyrki Katainen in Davos, Switzerland: meets Mr Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Mr Günther H. Oettinger in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland (until24/01): participates in the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Mr Johannes Hahn in Davos, Switzerland: participates in the World Economic Forum.
Ms Cecilia Malmström in Davos, Switzerland (until 25/01):participates in the World Economic Forum.
M. Pierre Moscovici à Davos, Suisse (jusqu’au 24/01): participe au Forum économique mondial;participe au panel “Strategic Economic outlook on Europe” et à la session: “Tax and Globalisation”;rencontre M. Alain Berset, Chef du Département fédéral de l’intérieur de la Suisse; M. George Soros, fondateur des Open Society Foundations; M. Suma Chakrabarti, Président de la Banque européenne pour la reconstruction et le développement; des représentants de JPMorgan Chase & Co;  des représentants de Booking; et des représentants de Bridgewater Associates.
Mr Phil Hogan receives Mr Massimiliano Giansanti, President of Confagricultura (Confederazione Generale dell’Agricoltura Italiana).
Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska receives Christian Archambeau, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) Executive Director.
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives representatives of the Central Europe Leuven Strategic Alliance (CELSA).
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives Mr Alain Paul Lebeaupin, Apostolic Nuncio and Head of Mission of the Holy See to the European Union.
Mr Tibor Navracsics receives Mr Daniel Breaz, Minister for Culture of Romania.
Ms Corina Creţu receives Ms Barbara Lezzi, Minister for the South (Italy).
Mr Carlos Moedas in Davos, Switzerland: attends the World Economic Forum; meets with Ms Pascale Baeriswy, Swiss Secretary of State; participates as a discussion leader in the panel “Harnessing Europe’s Innovation Potential”; participates in the “Future of Science and Technology in Society” Session; and participates at the dinner session: “Europe stepping up the lead”.
Mr Julian King meets Mr Kevin Brown, Managing Director for Security of BT Group plc, in Brussels.
Ms Mariya Gabriel delivers a keynote speech at the event Can the EU do more for a healthy media sector?.
Ms Mariya Gabriel in Lille, France: delivers a keynote speech at the International Cybersecurity Forum 2019.
Jeudi 24 janvier 2019
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Mr Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation and former European Commissioner.
Ms Federica Mogherini receives Mr Mr Yitzhak Hertzog, Head of the Jewish Agency in Israel.
Mr Andrus Ansip in Tallinn, Estonia: speaks at the high-level seminar “How to fight disinformation in Europe” with the President of Estonia.
Mr Maroš Šefčovič receives representatives of the Slovak business ( U.S.Steel Košice, Eustream, Slovnaft, Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP), Východoslovenská energetika (VSE), Západoslovenská energetika (ZSE) Enviral) on the occasion of the New Year concert organised by the Slovak community in Brussels.
Mr Jyrki Katainen in Davos, Switzerland: meets Ms Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM; Mr Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal; Mr Aditya Mittal, President, Chief Financial Officer of ArcelorMittal and CEO of ArcelorMittal Europe; and Mr Axel A. Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS Group.
Mr Johannes Hahn in Davos, Switzerland: participates in the World Economic Forum.
Ms Cecilia Malmström in Davos, Switzerland (until 25/01):participates in the World Economic Forum.
Mr Neven Mimica in Vilnius, Lithuania (until 25/01): on official mission.
Mr Karmenu Vella in St Julian’s, Malta:hosts a breakfast event for blue economy investors and delivers a keynote speech at the “Blue Invest in the Mediterranean” event; and meets Ms Emma Navarro, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis receives Mr Massimiliano Giansanti, President of Confagricultura (Confederazione Generale dell’Agricoltura Italiana).
Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos in Athens, Greece: speaks at the Economist: World in 2019 Gala Dinner.
M. Pierre Moscovici à Davos, Suisse: rencontre M. Francois Legault, Premier ministre du Québec; M. Ueli Maurer, Président de la Confédération suisse; M. Grant Robertson, Ministre des finances de la Nouvelle Zélande; M. Tony Blair, ancien Premier ministre britannique; des représentants de Bank of America Merrill Lynch ; et des représentants de Standard & Poor’s Global.
Mr Christos Stylianides in Athens, Greece: speaks at a public discussion on “The European Elections 2019 and the Future of the European Union” organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and Europe Direct ELIAMEP.
Ms Vĕra Jourová in Czechia: visits the company Skoda Auto; and delivers a speech at the conference organised by the Association for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Jagello 2000.
Mr Tibor Navracsics participates in and gives an opening speech at the Future of Learning Forum, in Brussels.
Ms Corina Creţu in Ispra, Italy: participates in a guided tour of the Joint Research Visitors’ Center and of the European Crisis Management Laboratory.
Ms Margrethe Vestager in Dublin, Ireland:participates in the stakeholders’ dinner hosted by the European Movement Ireland and the Central Bank of Ireland.
Mr Carlos Moedas in Davos, Switzerland: attends the World Economic Forum; participates in the discussion session “Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders (IGWEL): Keeping Trust in Cyberspace”; speaks at the European Research Council press conference; and participates in the Workshop “Competitiveness in the Digital Age”.
Ms Mariya Gabriel in Berlin, Germany: delivers a keynote speech at the Democracy in a Digital Society conference; and meets with Ms Katharina Barley, Federal German Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection.
Vendredi 25 janvier 2019
President Jean-Claude Juncker receives Ms Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
President Jean-Claude Juncker holds a joint press point with Ms Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Ms Federica Mogherini receives Mr Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Ms Federica Mogherini participates in a meeting with Ms Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Mr Frans Timmermans meets Ms Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, in Brussels.
Mr Frans Timmermans receives Mr Pascal Lamy, President emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute, to discuss the future of Europe.
 Mr Andrus Ansip in Tartu, Estonia: speaks at the Jaan Poska Gymnasium; speaks on AI at the sTARTUp Day business festival and visits the demo area of the sTARTUp Day festival.
Mr Jyrki Katainen in Oulu, Finland: participates in a Citizens’ Dialogue at the University of Oulu; meets Mr Pauli Harju, Region Mayor of the Council of the Oulu Region; participates in a working lunch hosted by Mr Juha Hänninen, Chairman of the Oulu City Council; and visits the Recofor Oy and Nukute Oy companies.
Ms Cecilia Malmström in Davos, Switzerland:participates in the World Economic Forum; and participates in the informal meeting of Ministers on WTO negotiations on electronic commerce.
Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis in Vilnius, Lithuania:delivers a speech at the BEUC-LVOA event “EU’s role in promoting health of Europeans beyond East & West”; participates in the Annual Conference Quo Vadis, Europa: “Upcoming elections, hybrid threats and the way forward”; and participates, together in a Citizens’ Dialogue.
Mr Christos Stylianides in Patras, Greece: speaks at a public event on “Europe at Crossroads: challenges and prospects for the future – rescEU: a new European response system to natural disasters”  organised by the European Parliament’s European People’s Party (EPP) and Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Groups.
Mr Phil Hogan meets Ms Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, in Brussels.
Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Myslowice, Poland: meets with representatives of the cancer-support association Amazonkami.
Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska in Tychy, Poland: meets with representatives of the Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Ms Vĕra Jourová in Czechia:  attends the event on the occasion of  the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, organised by the Senate of the Parliament of  Czechia.
Mr Tibor Navracsics in Budapest, Hungary: meets with Mr Gál András Levente – Chairman of Hungarian Public Administration and Organizational Development Research Institute (HUNADI).
Ms Margrethe Vestager in Dublin, Ireland: attends the gold medal award ceremony and receives a “Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse” by the Trinity College Historical Society; participates in the Citizens’ Dialogue at the Trinity College.
Mr Carlos Moedas in Davos, Switzerland:meets with Prof. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum; and meets with Mr Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health.
Ms Mariya Gabriel in Sofia, Bulgaria: meets with Mr Georghi Hristov, CEO of Mimirium Network; meets with Mr Zafer Galibov, photographer; meets with Mr Rumen Bizyokov, partner in the Aeternity blockchain platform.
Samedi 26 janvier 2019
Ms Violeta Bulc in Amman, Jordan: meets HRH King Abdullah II of Jordan and HRH Queen Rania of Jordan; meets Mr Walid Masri, Minister for Transport of Jordan; and participates in the launch of Jordan’s national road safety strategy.
Ms Mariya Gabriel in Sofia, Bulgaria: delivers a speech at the opening of the Teenovator Startup Weekend.
Dimanche 27 janvier 2019
Ms Margrethe Vestager in Berlin, Germany:  gives a keynote speech at the FDP’s European Party Convention; and participates in and gives a speech at the Pulse of Europe Berlin’s pro-Europe event.
Prévisions du mois de janvier :
28/01/2019 Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Permanence DG COMM le WE du 26 et 27 janvier 2019:
Christian SPAHR: . : +32 (0)2/295 21 23


Main topics and media events 21 January – 3 February 2019

Source: European Union

Roaming charges ended in the European Union on 15 June 2017. Europeans travelling within EU countries will ‘Roam Like at Home’ and pay domestic prices for roaming calls, SMS and data.  …

On 23 June 2016 citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017 the UK formally notified the European Council of its intention to leave the EU by…

Over the past 20 years, the European Union has put in place some of the highest common asylum standards in the world. And in the past two years, European migration policy has advanced in leaps and…

‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan.It will be built through concrete achievementswhich first create a de facto solidarity.’Robert Schuman9 May 1950On 25 March 2017,…

In response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and deliberate destabilisation of a neighbouring sovereign country, the EU has imposed restrictive measures against the Russian Federation.  …

Enlargement is the process whereby countries join the EU. Since it was founded in 1957, the EU has grown from 6 member countries to 28.Any European country that respects the principles of liberty,…


Third quarter of 2018 compared with second quarter of 2018 – Government debt down to 86.1% of GDP in euro area – Down to 80.8% of GDP in EU28

Source: European Union

At the end of the third quarter of 2018, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA19) stood at 86.1%, compared with 86.3% at the end of the second quarter of 2018. In the EU28, the ratio decreased from 81.0% to 80.8%. Compared with the third quarter of 2017, the government debt to GDP ratio fell in both the euro area (from 88.2% to 86.1%) and the EU28 (from 82.5% to 80.8%).
Full text available on EUROSTAT website


Third quarter of 2018 – Seasonally adjusted government deficit increased to 0.5% of GDP in the euro area – Up to 0.6% of GDP in the EU28

Source: European Union

In the third quarter of 2018, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 0.5% in the euro area (EA19), an increase compared with 0.3% in the second quarter of 2018. In the EU28, the deficit to GDP ratio stood at 0.6%, an increase compared with 0.4% in the previous quarter.
Full text available on EUROSTAT website