Daily News 12/04/2017

Daily News 12/04/2017

European Commission - Daily News
Brussels, 12 April 2017

College discusses legal issues relating to Hungary and decides on next steps

At the initiative of President Jean-Claude Juncker, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans led a debate today in the College of Commissioners on recent developments in Hungary which have widely raised concerns about compatibility with EU law and the common values on which the Union is based. The College discussed the Hungarian Higher Education Act, a draft law concerning foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the 'Stop Brussels' national consultation, and ongoing legal concerns in the fields of asylum and non-discrimination. The College agreed to take forward the relevant and legally mature individual infringement cases in the next cycle of infringement procedures at the end of this month. The Commission will also swiftly complete a thorough legal assessment of the Higher Education law and decide on next steps in the next infringement cycle. On the draft law on NGO funding, the Commission will closely monitor the process and will revert to the matter on the basis of an analysis of the legal issues at stake. Finally, with regards to the national consultation 'Stop Brussels', the Commission decided today to prepare and make public its own response to the consultation. The issues discussed today by the College relate both to the respect of Union law and the respect of the Union's common values as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. Taken cumulatively, the overall situation in Hungary is a cause of concern for the Commission. The College therefore agreed to start a political dialogue with the Hungarian authorities, the other Member States and the European Parliament. The remarks of First Vice-President Timmermans will be available here after his College readout in the press room. 
(For more information: Margaritis Schinas – Tel.: +32 229 60524; Mina Andreeva – Tel.: +32 229 91382; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

Security Union: Commission outlines priorities on combatting serious and organised crime

Today, the European Commission is presenting the sixth report on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union. The report outlines the implementation of the priority files in the area of security, including the recently-approved Directive on combatting terrorism and the revision of the Schengen Borders Code. The report also sets out the Commission's view on future EU priorities to combat serious and organised crime and identifies eight specific threats, namely (1) cybercrime, (2) drugs crime, (3) migrant smuggling, (4) organised property crime, (5) trafficking in human beings, (6) firearms trafficking, (7) VAT fraud and (8) environmental crime. These priorities should feed into the new EU Policy Cycle for 2018-2020 to ensure effective cooperation between Member States in addressing the most pressing criminal threats facing the EU. The Commission calls on the Council to endorse these priorities at the June 2017 Justice and Home Affairs Council. Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The recent terrorist attacks in Europe and in our neighbourhood show the urgency to step up our efforts to deliver an effective and genuine Security Union. Our citizens expect the Union to deliver concrete results against the threat of terrorism, but also on organised crime, which exploits new opportunities such as the migration crisis to generate criminal profits."Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: "As we step up our efforts to squeeze the space that terrorists and organised crime groups operate in, this report provides a solid basis for discussion on EU priorities on combatting serious and organised crime for the next four years." The progress report is available here and the updated factsheet here. The next progress report, foreseen for mid-May 2017, will focus on the findings of the High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability. 
(For more information: Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764; Katarzyna Kolanko – Tel.: +32 229 63444)

First steps taken to implement the Malta Declaration: EU Trust Fund for Africa adopts €90 million programme on protection and improved migration management in Libya

Following-up on the Malta Declaration of 3 February, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, upon proposal from the European Commission, has adopted today €90 million to reinforce protection and resilience of migrants, refugees and host communities in Libya. High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini said: "For the European Union, Libya and the Libyans have been and stay a top priority. We are working to promote a political solution to the Libyan crisis and to support the Libyan authorities on the many challenges they have to face, including the managing of the migration flows. As the first donor for Libya, we already are providing a sizeable package of support worth €120 million to assist the authorities and the population. And while we are working to provide training and capacity building to the coast guard to save lives in the Mediterranean Sea, we are addressing the appalling situation the migrants stranded in Libya face, together with international organisations such as IOM and UNHCR. The additional €90 million we adopt today are aimed at protecting and assisting migrants in the country, and the people who host them. Our aim remains cooperating in protecting lives, and promoting peace and stability in Libya. The European Union is doing its part and the Libyan authorities, all of them, have to do theirs." Commissioner Hahn added: "At the initiative of the European Commission, the EU Trust Fund for Africa is taking rapid action on a pressing priority for both the EU and our partner countries. By supporting actions in Libya, today's newly adopted programme will address the needs of the migrants and contribute to a better management of migration flows. In addition, the projects will also support improved socio-economic conditions for all in Libya, and thus contribute to reducing the drivers of irregular migration and make the smugglers' task more difficult". The programme will support improved migration management in the country, taking into account the complex socio-economic conditions in Libya and the need to assist all affected populations, including vulnerable migrants, refugees and host communities, internally displaced persons and returnees. Activities will focus on protection, such as assistance to migrants and refugees through primary healthcare, and socio-economic development and local governance, through strengthening capacities of local authorities to provide services and foster local development and stability. The programme will be implemented through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).
For more information, a full press release and a factsheeton EU-Libya relations are available online. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887; Esther Osorio – Tel.: +32 229 62076)