Commission presents measures for the creation of a secure health data system across borders and takes decisions on two Competition cases
Easier and more secure access to health data across borders
The Commission presented today a set of recommendations for the creation of a secure system that will enable citizens to access their electronic health files across Member States.
Currently the ability of European citizens to access their electronic medical records across the EU greatly varies from one country to another. Although some citizens can access part of their electronic health records at national level or across borders, many others have limited digital access or no access at all.
The Recommendation aims at the creation of a European format that will allow electronic health records being shared in a secure manner at the same time as adhering to data protection rules.
Member States have already taken the first steps in making some parts of the health records interoperable, such as patient summaries and e-prescriptions. The Recommendation takes this action further and proposes that Member States extend this work into three new areas of the health record: laboratory tests, medical discharge reports and images, and imaging reports. Moreover, the text sets the basis for the necessary technical specifications that should be used in health record exchanges.
The initiative also aims to place the future development of the work into a clear framework by setting down principles for the exchange of health information across EU borders and a governance process involving the Commission, Member States and relevant stakeholders.
The European Commission has prohibited Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom under the EU Merger Regulation. The merger would have harmed competition in markets for railway signalling systems and very high-speed trains.
Today's decision follows an in-depth investigation by the Commission. The takeover would have combined Siemens’ and Alstom’s transport equipment and service activities in a new company fully controlled by Siemens. It would have brought together the two largest suppliers of various types of railway and metro signalling systems, as well as of rolling stock in Europe, both also with leading positions globally. The merger would have created the undisputed market leader in some signalling markets and a dominant player in very high-speed trains. It would have significantly reduced competition in both these areas, depriving customers, including train operators and rail infrastructure managers of a choice of suppliers and products. The Commission received several complaints during its in-depth investigation, from customers, competitors, industry associations and trade unions. It also received negative comments from several National Competition Authorities in the European Economic Area. Stakeholders were worried that the proposed transaction would significantly harm competition and reduce innovation in signalling systems and very high-speed rolling stock, lead to the foreclosure of smaller competitors and to higher prices and less choice for customers. Since the parties were not willing to offer adequate remedies to address these concerns, the Commission blocked the merger to protect competition in the European railway industry.
The European Commission has prohibited Wieland’s proposed acquisition of Aurubis Rolled Products and Aurubis' stake in Schwermetall. It had serious concerns the merger would reduce competition and increase prices for rolled copper products used by European manufacturers. Today’s decision follows an in-depth investigation by the Commission. During the investigation, a large number of European industrial customers expressed strong and substantiated concerns about the significant negative impact of the transaction- both upstream regarding access to pre-rolled strip from Schwermetall, and downstream regarding price increases for rolled products. The Commission’s analysis of internal documents of the parties confirmed that these concerns were justified. Wieland was not willing to address comprehensively the concerns. Therefore, the Commission has prohibited the proposed transaction.
Practical arrangements for Commissioners participating in European Parliament elections
The European Commission has today issued detailed and practical guidance on ethical standards for Members of the Commission who campaign for the European Parliament elections in May. The Guidelines will ensure the coherent application of the revised Code of Conduct for Members of the European Commission. President Juncker proposed in November 2016 a new Code of Conduct in order to explicitly allow Commissioners - all of them experienced and high-calibre politicians - to actively participate in the campaign for the European Parliament elections, including as lead candidates for the position of President of the Commission, without having to temporarily withdraw from their duties in the Commission. The amended Code of Conduct entered into force in January 2018.
Senior management appointments
Today, and with effect of 16 March 2019, the European Commission appointed current Deputy Secretary-General Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen as Director-General of its Communication department (DG Communication) - the first woman to hold this post. Timo Pesonen, the current Director-General of DG Communication, will be heading the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs department (DG GROW) as of 1 March 2019. He will succeed Lowri Evans in that position, who will retire as of 1 March 2019, after more than three decades of distinguished and dedicated service in many positions of great responsibility.
Commission on track to reach its target of at least 40% female managers within the Commission
Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther H. Oettinger informed the College on the progress made to reach the target set by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the start of his mandate to have at least 40% of middle and senior management positions occupied by women in the European Commission by the end of the current mandate. The Commission is closer than ever to reaching this target.
As of 1 February, the figure stands at 39.6%, up from 30% in November 2014. The most significant progress has been achieved at the level of Deputy Directors-General, where the figure is even higher than the 40% target: women currently make up for 43% of all Deputy Directors-General, up from 8% in November 2014. The 40% target has also been reached where the Commission has the highest number of managers - Heads of Units: women currently make up for 40.6% of all positions, compared to 31% when the Juncker Commission took office.
Winter Economic Forecast
Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici, gave the College a brief overview of the Winter Economic Forecast that will be presented tomorrow.