Commission awards exemplary projects protecting nature across Europe

MIL OSI – Source: European Union –

Headline: Commission awards exemplary projects protecting nature across Europe

The annual Natura 2000 Awards recognise conservation achievements across the EU and raise awareness about initiatives that protect nature across Europe, benefiting citizens’ quality of life as well as the economy on which their prosperity depends.

Natura 2000 is a network of over 27 000 protected sites that covers 18 % of EU land territory and more than 5 % of its marine areas. The aim of the network is to protect and enhance Europe’s natural heritage, securing the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species.

The six winners, chosen from a shortlist of 24 finalists, include projects from Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain, the United Kingdom and cross border projects from Belgium and France as well as Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland and Norway.

Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella announcing the winners at a ceremony in Brussels on 23rd May said: “I am once again honoured to recognise the fantastic work undertaken by the winners and all of the finalists in preserving our common natural heritage. These initiatives have gone a long way towards ensuring that nature’s benefits keep flowing for many years to come. This year, over 37 000 people cast a vote for their favourite project to win the EU Citizens’ Award, which is a 50 % increase from last year. This goes to show just how important these awards are for increasing awareness about Europe-wide efforts to promote biodiversity.”

This year, European Citizens’ Award goes to the Spanish conservation initiative to save the Iberian lynx – the world’s most threatened cat species – from extinction. The programme, implemented with the help of funding from the EU LIFE Fund, captured the public attention and won with a total of almost 6 000 votes.

The Conservation Award went to an initiative on Blanket bog restoration in Dove Stone in the United Kingdom, implemented by the Royal Society for the Protection ofBirds and the water company United Utilities. With the help of local volunteers, the project succeeded in restoring a very rare habitat – blanket bogs – in Dove Stone Natura 2000 site and also improved local water quality.

The project For the Balkans and the People: Nature Protection and Sustainable Rural Development in Bulgaria won the Socio-Economic Benefits Award for demonstrating that nature conservation and economic development can go hand-in-hand and are mutually dependant.This initiative implemented by a coalition of NGOs has helped farmers and micro- and small enterprises from the Balkan Mountains to market their products and promote eco-tourism. It has also introduced a “Payment for Ecosystem Services” scheme, which ensures that protecting essential grasslands and water ecosystems provides local businesses with economic benefits. Video

The Communication Award went to the Nature Concerthall project in Latvia implemented bythe Nature Concerthall Association, for their efforts to improve public knowledge about nature and biodiversity in an innovative and artistic way. As a result of unique cooperation between musicians and scientists, artistic events have been organised at or near Natura 2000 sites, dedicated each year to a particular species or habitat. Over the past ten years they have attracted tens of thousands of visitors, improving their knowledge of nature protection, and promoting environmentally-friendly behaviour. Video

The Reconciling interests/perception award goes to the project Creating green corridors for biodiversity under high-tension lines between Belgium and France. Implemented by two electricity transmission system operators, ELIA and RTE with the support of LIFE funding, this initiative tested a nature-based approach to overcoming the challenges of power supply in forested areas. Their approach not only enhanced biodiversity and landscapes, but also made long run economic sense. Video

The project to preserve the lesser white-fronted goose, Europe’s rarest waterbird, won the Cross-border Cooperation and Networking award. Partners from Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, and 15 other countries combined their efforts on urgent conservation actions along the bird’s flying route, while also focusing on policy work, awareness-raising, vocational training and environmental education. Video



The Award is open to anyone directly involved in the EU’s Natura 2000 – businesses, government bodies, NGOs, volunteers, land owners, educational institutions or individuals. A total of 83 applications from across Europe were received this time. From these, a shortlist of 24 applications was established. A high-level jury then selected the winners.


Further information:

Pictures from the ceremony and the winning sites can be downloaded here

Video footage from the ceremony is available here

More information about the winners and the role that Natura 2000 sites play in helping to protect Europe’s biodiversity   

More information about Nature in Europe  

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Daily News 24 / 05 / 2016

MIL OSI – Source: European Union –

Headline: Daily News 24 / 05 / 2016

Commission awards €25 million in emergency funding to the European Asylum Support Office for capacity building in Greece

The European Commission has awarded €25 million in emergency funding to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to enhance its capacity to further support the Greek authorities. These additional resources will be used to support the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and the EU emergency relocation scheme. The funding is provided under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and will allow for the deployment of additional Member State experts and interpreters, and the set-up of mobile EASO offices in the hotspots to assist with processing asylum applications. Commissioner Avramopoulos said: “EU Agencies are playing a crucial role in supporting the Greek authorities on the ground, providing practical expertise and operational support. The Commission is supporting these deployments through emergency EU funding. I call on Member States to quickly make available the necessary staff to help EASO deliver the planned support and give a boost to the EU relocation scheme. This is key to addressing the humanitarian situation on the ground.” The funding announced today is part of the emergency response plan developed together by the Commission, the Greek authorities and relevant stakeholders to address the ongoing humanitarian situation on the ground and implement the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March. Since the beginning of 2015 the Commission has awarded €262 million in emergency assistance to support the Greek authorities as well as Union agencies, international organisations and NGOs operating in Greece. Emergency funding comes on top of the €509 million already allocated to Greece under the national programmes for 2014-2020 (€294.5 million from AMIF and €214.7 million from ISF). A factsheet on EU financial support to Greece is available here. (For more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)


Joint Statement on the outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit

On the occasion of the World Humanitarian Summit on 23-24 May in Istanbul, Turkey, Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, have issued the following statement: Every day, thousands of innocent people are the victims of natural disasters and conflict. Over 125 million men, women and children depend on humanitarian assistance across the world, and the needs are constantly growing. At this critical juncture, the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit has brought together the international community to seek ways to prevent and end crises as well as to strengthen and reshape the way aid is delivered. We welcome the political communiqué endorsed on this occasion. The European Union pledged individual commitments at the summit concerning policies, programmes and funds it is responsible for and is committed to strong progress on each of the five core responsibility areas, for which core commitments have been formulated by the UN. The World Humanitarian Summit has come to an end today, but our work towards a new global partnership linking political action to prevent crises, development assistance and more effective and principled humanitarian aid has only just begun. The challenges we are facing are complex, and there is no simple solution. This is the moment to roll up our sleeves and transform the Summit commitments into concrete action. The European Union, as the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, will play its full part in reshaping aid to better serve people in need and calls on all world leaders to do the same.” The statement is available online here. Audiovisual coverage from the Summit is also available on EBS (For more information: Alexandre Polack – Tel.: +32 229 90677; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.: +32 229 69140)


Micro-enterprises to benefit from first ‘Employment and Social Innovation’-microfinance deal in Estonia

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Estonian financial group AS LHV Pank (LHV) have signed a guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Estonia under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). This new EaSI guarantee agreement with LHV will cover a loan portfolio of €12 million for over 700 micro-borrowers including young entrepreneurs establishing start-up businesses, ethnic minorities, and micro entrepreneurs with limited access to credit through the new loan product ‘LHV Micro loan’. The loan application process will be web-based, automatic and made as user-friendly for clients as possible. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, said: “With the help of EU funding, LHV is opening a completely new credit line for the microfinance segment. More than 700 micro entrepreneurs in Estonia, including young entrepreneurs and ethnic minorities, will be able to benefit from loans on preferential conditions. This shows again that the European Commission is fully committed to boosting employment in Europe and getting more people into jobs, with particular efforts directed towards the most vulnerable people on the labour market.” The EaSI Guarantee scheme was launched in June 2015 and is funded by the European Commission and managed by the European Investment Fund. More information can be found here. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)


Preparation of the Eurogroup and informal ECOFIN Council meetings 24-25 May

Vice-President Dombrovskis and Commissioner Moscovici will represent the European Commission at the Eurogroup meeting, where the agenda includes adiscussion on the implementation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) programme for Greece, an exchange of views on the economic situation and the outlook in the euro area.The meeting will be followed by a press conference.Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioner Moscovici and Commissioner Hill will represent the Commission at the working sessions of the ECOFIN meeting on Wednesday, where the focus will be on corporate tax avoidance, VAT and the Banking Union. Ministers will try to come to an agreement on the way forward for new rules to tackle loopholes in our taxation systems which some multinational companies use to avoid paying their fair share of tax. The Council is also expected to adopt conclusions confirming political support for the Commission’s proposed process towards a common EU list of third countries who do not respect international tax good governance standards. On VAT, ministers will discuss the Commission’s VAT Action Plan and adopt conclusions on VAT fraud (including the ‘VAT Gap’), the future definitive EU VAT system and ways to give Member States more flexibility on VAT rates. In the session devoted to Banking Union, the Commission will update ministers on the implementation of the various initiatives in this area. Finally, ministers will exchange views on the Country Reports that include the results of in-depth reviews and the analysis of the implementation of the 2015 country-specific recommendations. A press conference will take place at the end of the meeting. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Vanessa Mock – Tel.: + 32 229 56194; Patrick McCullough – Tel.: + 32 229 87183; Audrey Augier – Tel.: + 32 229 71607; Annikky Lamp +32 229 56151)


Natura 2000 Awards: Commission honours exemplary projects protecting nature across Europe

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella announced in a ceremony in Brussels yesterday, the winners of the 2016 Natura 2000 Awards. Natura 2000 is a network aiming at protecting and enhancing the EU’s natural heritage. The awards recognise exemplary projects that protect nature across Europe and raise awareness about these initiatives. The six winners awarded include projects from Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as cross-border projects from Belgium, France, Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, and Norway. At the awards ceremony, Commissioner Vella said: “I am honoured to recognise the fantastic work undertaken by the winners and all of the finalists in preserving the common natural heritage of Europe. These initiatives have gone a long way towards ensuring that nature’s benefits keep flowing for many years to come. This year, over 37 000 people cast a vote for their favourite project to win the EU Citizens’ Award, which is a 50 % increase from last year. This goes to show just how important these awards are for increasing awareness about Europe-wide efforts to promote biodiversity.” For more information and a full list of the winners, see today’s press release. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: +32 229 93321)


Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

The European Commission is today publishing a report detailing the progress achieved during the 13th round of talks for a trade agreement with the United States, which took place in April 2016, together with its proposal on regulatory cooperation in pharmaceuticals, submitted to the US during this round. The publication of these documents from the ongoing negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is in line with the European Commission’s commitment to enhanced transparency. The round report shows that negotiators made good progress in all three pillars of the negotiations, namely i) better access to markets for EU and US firms, ii) simplifying technical regulations without lowering standards and iii) global rules of trade, including sustainable development, labour and the environment and a dedicated chapter for smaller firms (SMEs). However, significant differences still remain, notably in the areas of services and public procurement. The proposal for cooperation in the pharmaceuticals sector aims to help regulators work more closely together to achieve better efficiency and thereby deliver benefits for patients. The cooperation would take place in three main areas: co-ordinating inspections of pharmaceutical facilities to avoid unnecessary duplication, reducing the need for medicines to undergo duplicate approval processes in both EU and the US, and supporting each other’s work on developing regulations in new areas which could lead to faster and cheaper approval of medicines. The proposal clearly states that both the EU and the US reserve the full right to regulate to achieve public policy objectives and protect human and animal health, and the environment. Also today, Commissioner Malmström will deliver a keynote speech on the benefits of TTIP for the European business community, at a conference hosted by the EurActiv Institute in Brussels. The speech will be available on the Commissioner’s website. A factsheet on regulatory cooperation on pharmaceuticals can be found here, and more EU proposals are available here. (For more information: Daniel Rosario – Tel.: +32 229 56185; Axel Fougner – Tel.: +32 229 57276)

Mergers: Commission clears joint venture between Investindustrial and Catelli

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over the Italian company Artsana by Investindustrial of the UK and Catelli of Italy. Artsana is currently solely controlled by Catelli and sells baby care, health and beauty products. Investindustrial invests in medium-sized companies predominantly based in Southern Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because the overlaps between the activities of Artsana and the portfolio companies of Investindustrial are very limited. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M. 8027. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Giulia Komel – Tel.: +32 229 61175)

Eurostat: Un décès sur trois aurait pu être évité dans l’UE compte tenu des connaissances et technologies médicales actuelles

Dans l’Union européenne (UE), 1,7 million de personnes âgées de moins de 75 ans sont décédées en 2013. Parmi ces décès, 577 500 (soit 33,7% du total) pourraient être considérés comme prématurés au sens où ils auraient pu être évités compte tenu des connaissances et des technologies médicales. Les crises cardiaques (184 800 décès) et les accidents vasculaires cérébraux (AVC, quasiment 94 000 décès) représentaient à eux deux près de la moitié (48%) du total de ces causes de décès évitables pour les personnes de moins de 75 ans. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d’informations: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel. +32 229 87624)


Joint Statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos and Canadian Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum following their meeting in Toronto on 23 May

“Our meeting was constructive and productive and reaffirmed the strong bonds of friendship between the European Union and Canada. We discussed a broad array of issues of central importance to the European Union and Canada, including the challenges of the current migratory crisis and visa issues.  We exchanged views on the unprecedented global migratory crisis and the concerted efforts required of the international community to face up to the task. We discussed the exemplary efforts exerted by Canada to resettle Syrians in need of international protection, and the need for other countries to show equal leadership in this respect. Solidarity and responsibility should be our guiding moral, legal and political principles in this respect. We exchanged views on how to ensure better legal channels, not only for those who need protection, but also those that can contribute economically and financially. Our economies need talent from abroad and we can learn from each other. During our meeting we also addressed the issue of visa reciprocity between the European Union and Canada. We pledged to continue working together to resolve remaining issues in this area and we reaffirmed our commitment to take tangible steps on both sides to improve the current state of play. Canada and the EU are historical key partners, not only on migration and mobility, and are committed in continuing this strategic friendship and relationship in the future.” You can also find the statement here. (For more information: Natasha Bertaud – Tel.: +32 229 67456; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Markus Lammert – Tel.: +32 229 80423)

Commissioner Bulc outlines her vision for Transport Investment

Appearing in front of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc presented her vision for transport investment and updated Members on the progress made so far. Commissioner Bulc said “Overall, between the Connecting Europe Facility and EFSI, over €40 billion of investment has, or is soon to be, triggered in the transport sector, allowing us to estimate that it will potentially support about half a million temporary or permanent jobs in the coming years. We are working to develop a pipeline [of projects] that delivers big contributions to society, with a substantial economic return, and significant impact on jobs and growth (…). We need a strategic plan to support Member States and project promotors to transition from a publicly financed approach towards the use of new financial instruments. This in principle means to create a new investment culture in the EU. I am more and more convinced that the “blending” of grants with EFSI instruments is an effective way forward”. Her full speech is available ANNOUNCEMENTS


Vice-President Šefčovič and Commissioner Bulc encourage cities to accelerate investment in sustainable energy and transport solutions

Vice President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc today attend and deliver keynote speeches to Commissioner Vella at UN Environment Assembly in Kenya, 25 – 27 May

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella will lead the EU Delegation at the second meeting of the Commissioner Thyssen participates in first Leaders’ Meeting of European Pact for Youth

Today Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, is participating, together with Viscount Etienne Davignon – French Minister of State and President of CSR Europe – in the first Leaders’ meeting of the European Pact for Youth in Brussels. The Pact was launched in November 2015 involving particularly CEOs of companies, aiming to boost business-education partnerships to foster youth employability and inclusion. The Pact has set itself some ambitious aims: to achieve 100,000 new traineeships, apprenticeships or entry-level jobs; and to put in place 10,000 business-education partnerships. On the occasion of the first leaders’ meeting of the European Pact for Youth, the first results will be discussed. This complements the Commission’s European Alliance for Apprenticeships initiative, which has so far resulted in 250,000 training and job opportunities for youth across Europe. For more information on the latest pledges, a press release will shortly be available. Ahead of the meeting, Commissioner Thyssen commented: “I firmly believe that companies in general and business-education partnerships in particular play an essential role in reducing youth unemployment. This is why the upcoming Skills Agenda will also seek closer engagement with the business community, with a view to providing young people with the skills they need to succeed on today’s labour market.” Commissioner Thyssen‘s speech can be found here. The final conclusions of the meeting will be presented at a business-education summit in November 2017. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Sara Soumillion – Tel.: + 32 229 67094)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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Avoidable deaths in 2013-One death out of three in the EU could have been avoided in the light of current medical knowledge and technology-Heart diseases main category

MIL OSI – Source: European Union –

Headline: Avoidable deaths in 2013-One death out of three in the EU could have been avoided in the light of current medical knowledge and technology-Heart diseases main category

In the European Union (EU), 1.7 million persons aged less than 75 died in 2013. Among them, around 577 500 deaths (or 33.7% of total deaths) could be considered as premature, as they could have been avoided in the light of medical knowledge and technology. Heart attacks (184 800 deaths) and strokes (almost 94 000 deaths) accounted together for almost half (48%) of these total avoidable causes of death of people aged less than 75.

Full text available on EUROSTAT website

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Statement by the Spokesperson on the execution of Mr Kho Jabing on 20 May 2016 in Singapore

MIL OSI – Source: European Union –

Headline: Statement by the Spokesperson on the execution of Mr Kho Jabing on 20 May 2016 in Singapore

The recent execution of Mr Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national, in Singapore, runs counter to global trends towards instating a moratorium on the use of capital punishment. The European Union recalls its opposition to the use of capital punishment which can never be justified.
The European Union believes that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment and has consistently called for its universal abolition. Experience worldwide has demonstrated that the death penalty fails to act as a deterrent to crime, which is why many countries have stopped applying it.
We therefore call on the Singaporean authorities to reinstate a moratorium on executions as a first step towards the universal abolition of death penalty.

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