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Schulz in Lesbos: 'People are really running for their lives'

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20151105PHT01435_width_600European Parliament President Martin Schulz travelled to the Greek island of Lesbos in order to visit a refugee registration and identification centre where almost 2,500 people are recorded on a daily basis. Speaking at the so-called hotspot at Moria, he said: "We must urgently reinforce efforts to complete hotspots. To be effective, however, all member states must take part in the relocation." While in Greece the President also visited Athens for the first relocation of refugees from Greece to Luxembourg.

While on an official two-day trip to Greece this week, European Parliament President Martin Schulz had the opportunity to visit a refugee reception centre on the Greek island of Lesbos. The Aegean island has become an important entry point for refugees due to its close proximity to Turkey. During his visit to Lesbos with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the President was able to assess first-hand the refugee and migration situation on the ground. Speaking from the refugee 'hotspot' of Moria, he said: "I witnessed the work being done by the Greek government and the intense commitment of European and international agencies and NGOs in dealing in the most humane and efficient way with those who arrive."

On Wednesday 4 November Schulz and Tsipras joined Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Luxembourgish Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn to witness the first relocation of refugees from Greece to Luxembourg. Speaking at Athens airport, he noted: "This is first and foremost a crisis of refugees, people who are really running for their lives." He described the relocation as a first step, and added that all member states must make their reception capacity known to the relocation scheme.

More than 600,000 people have entered the EU through Greece so far this year, with most fleeing from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea. Parliament gave its backing in September to the relocation of 160,000 asylum-seekers from Greece, Hungary and Italy to other EU member states.

Click here for more on the current refugee crisis.

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EU

Rule of law: First Annual Report on the Rule of Law situation across the European Union

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The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. It includes input from every member state and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU.

The report, including the 27 country chapters, shows that many member states have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by member states due to coronavirus crisis.

It covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

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Follow the press conference with Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Reynders live on EbS.

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Electricity interconnectivity

Commission approves prolongation of two Greek measures to support transition towards new electricity market design

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation for a limited period of two Greek measures, a flexibility mechanism and an interruptability scheme, to support the transition to the new electricity market design. Under the flexibility mechanism, which was initially approved by the Commission on 30 July 2018 (SA 50152), flexible power capacity providers such as gas-fired power plants, flexible hydro plants and demand response operators can obtain a payment for being available to generate electricity or, in the case of demand response operators, for being ready to reduce their electricity consumption.

This flexibility in power capacity will allow the Greek transmission system operator (TSO) to cope with the variability in electricity production and consumption. Under the interruptibility scheme, which was initially approved by the Commission on 07 February 2018 (SA. 48780), Greece compensates large energy consumers for agreeing to be voluntarily disconnected from the network when security of electricity supply is at risk, as happened for example during the gas crisis in the cold winter of December 2016/January 2017.

Greece notified to the Commission its intention to prolong the flexibility mechanism until March 2021, and the interruptibility scheme until September 2021. The Commission assessed the two measures under the Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020.

The Commission found that the prolongation of the two measures is necessary for a limited period of time, in view of the on-going reforms in the Greek electricity market. It also found that the aid is proportionate because the remuneration of beneficiaries is fixed through a competitive auction, and thus avoids overcompensation. On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register, under the case number SA.56102 and SA.56103.

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coronavirus

Commission approves €26 million German scheme to compensate youth hostels, school country homes, youth education centres and family holiday centres in Bavaria for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a German scheme to compensate youth hostels, school country homes, youth education centres and family holiday centres in Bavaria for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants and will compensate the damage suffered up to a maximum of 60% of the loss of revenues incurred by eligible beneficiaries in the period from 18 March 2020 to 31 July 2020.

During this period, the beneficiaries had to close their accommodation facilities due to the restrictive measure that the German authorities implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus. When calculating the loss of revenue, reductions in costs resulting from income generated during the lockdown (e.g. cancellation fees), as well as possible financial aid granted or actually paid out by public authorities to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak (including aid granted under the measure with case number SA.56974, approved by the Commission in April 2020) will be deducted.

This will ensure that no more than the damage suffered can be compensated. The measure will be funded via the Corona Programme Social Affairs fund of the Free State of Bavaria, which has a total budget of €26 million. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages directly caused by restrictive measures taken due to exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the German scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damages. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules. More information on actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.  The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58464 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website.

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