EU charts new ground in global connectivity – looks to boost strategic ties with Asia
EU providing emergency response following earthquakes and flash floods in Albania | EU Commission Press
In the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes that hit Albania and ensuing flash floods the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated by the Albanian authorities. In an immediate response, the European Union has already helped mobilise first aid supplies and relief items, such as tents, power generators and water pumps to the affected areas. Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said: “The European Union stands in solidarity with Albania at this difficult time and substantial EU support is already on its way. European experts, life-saving assets and material will soon be making a difference in the crucial early days of the response. I warmly thank Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Norway for their offers of assistance through our Civil Protection Mechanism. Our thoughts are with all those in the affected areas and the first responders working on the ground. We stand ready to provide further assistance.” The European Union’s 24/7 Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in constant contact with the Albanian authorities to closely monitor the situation and channel further EU assistance on request. It will also deploy an EU Civil Protection Team of several experts to facilitate the coordination of the in-coming assistance. Photos of the Emergency Centre are available, a factsheet on the EU’s Emergency Centre.
Education and training in the EU: supporting teachers is critical to build the European Education Area | EU Commission Press
Coinciding with the second European Education Summit, the European Commission published today the 2019 Education and Training Monitor analysing how education and training is evolving in the EU and its Member States. The 2019 Monitor shows further progress towards important EU education and training targets, but also highlights the need to better support teachers and make the teaching profession more attractive. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “To build a resilient, cohesive and fair Europe, we need to invest in education. Above all, this means investing in teachers – giving them the tools and recognition they deserve. The success of any education reform depends on teachers – that is why better responding to their needs is key to building a true European Education Area by 2025. I am proud of what we have achieved with Member States over the past years, but more work lies ahead. The Education and Training Monitor has a vital role to play in driving further reform of our education systems, helping us ensure that everyone can make the most of their talents.” The Commission supports Member States to improve their education systems through policy cooperation, benchmarking and funding programmes such as Erasmus+. The Monitor, the EU’s annual flagship publication on education, is an integral part of this work. By presenting a wealth of policies and fostering dialogue, it helps Member States benchmark and improve their education systems. A press release and 28 country-specific factsheets in all EU languages and a general factsheet are available online.
Commission experts support the development of 13 Bulgarian research and innovation centres | EU Commission Press
State aid: Commission approves €6.2 million aid for Erfurt-Weimar Airport in Germany | EU Commission Press
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, additional operating aid of around €6.2 million to Erfurt-Weimar airport. The small regional airport is 100% publicly owned and located in the Land of Thuringia. In June 2018, the Commission approved, under EU State aid rules, initial operating aid of €10.7 million to the airport. Germany notified to the Commission its plans to extend the operating aid to the airport and to grant additional €6.2 million up to 2024 to the airport operator. This follows the prolongation of the rules on operating aid for small airports under the Aviation Guidelines until 2024 and the recent insolvency of airline Germania, which caused a significant drop in passengers at the Erfurt-Weimar airport. The operating aid aims to keep the airport running in the medium-term, until it is expected to cover its costs as of 2024. The Commission found that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules, in particular the Aviation Guidelines, as it will contribute to improving connections of citizens and facilitating regional development in the region of Thuringia, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.54496 once confidentiality issues have been resolved.
Kövesi to become EU Chief Prosecutor | EU Parliament Press
- Laura Codruţa Kövesi was Parliament’s top candidate to become the first EU Chief Prosecutor
- The new office will investigate crimes against the EU budget such as fraud, corruption or cross-border VAT fraud
Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on appointing Laura Codruţa Kövesi, MEPs’ preferred choice to be the first head of the new EU Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the new European Chief Prosecutor to lead the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) have been ongoing since last spring. Parliament’s negotiating team has backed Ms Kövesi throughout the negotiations, despite opposition from Council until now.
After the agreement with the Council negotiators on Tuesday evening, Civil Liberties Committee Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “Ms Kövesi is the perfect choice to become EU Chief Prosecutor. She has excellent professional competences. Moreover, Romania does not currently hold any key posts in the EU. She will be one of the strong women leading in the EU from now on.”
“We are very pleased that Ms Laura Kövesi will be leading the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office. She corresponds best to the European Parliament’s vision of a strong and credible EPPO. Ms Kövesi is extremely competent, with an impressive record of achievements in fighting corruption with remarkable resilience and great courage,” added Budget Control Committee Chair Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE)
Civil Liberties Committee Vice-Chair Maite Pagazaurtundúa (Renew, ES) said: “With the selection of Ms Kövesi as European Chief Prosecutor, citizens will feel more safe and protected now that the European Public Prosecutor’s office can start its work. The new office will have a key role in cracking down on offences affecting the EU’s financial interests – only criminals will be restless after this agreement.”
The agreement on the appointment of Ms Kövesi as European Chief Prosecutor now needs to be formally approved by the Parliament and the Council.
The EPPO, which is expected to be operational at the end of 2020, will be an independent office in charge of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or cross-border VAT fraud above 10 million euros. The list of crimes could be extended in the future to include, for example, terrorism.
So far, 22 member states have joined the EPPO. The five countries that currently do not participate – Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Denmark – could join at any time.
The EPPO central office will be based in Luxembourg, along with the Chief Prosecutor and a College of Prosecutors from all participating countries. They will head the day-to-day criminal investigations carried out by the delegated prosecutors in all participating member states.