EXME 11 / 01.02
Midday Express of 2011-02-01
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
Humanitarian aid will be delivered faster and more efficiently following a set of decisions adopted by the European Commission today. The first of these decisions will allocate more than €564 to fund relief operations in crisis zones across the world. Two other decisions will allocate €34.3 million and €24 million respectively for risk reduction and preparedness in disaster-prone areas and for helping humanitarian partners improve their response capacity.
One in five 15-year-olds in Europe, as well as many adults, lack basic reading and writing skills, which makes it harder for them to find a job and puts them at risk of social exclusion. To help tackle the issue, the European Commission has set up an independent group of experts to identify ways of raising literacy levels. The group, which met for the first time today in Brussels, is chaired by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who is a Special Envoy on Literacy for Development for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). EU Ministers have set a target of reducing the share of pupils with difficulties in reading, maths and science to fewer than 15% by 2020.
The EU is failing to close the innovation performance gap with its main international competitors: the US and Japan. Although the trends in most EU Member States are promising despite the economic crisis, progress is not fast enough. While the EU still maintains a clear lead over the emerging economies of India and Russia, Brazil is making steady progress, and China is catching up rapidly. Within the EU, Sweden is the most impressive performer followed by Denmark, Finland and Germany. The UK, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, France, Cyprus, Slovenia and Estonia, in that order, form the next group. These are some of the main conclusions from the 2010 Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS) published today by the European Commission. This is the first edition under the Innovation Union initiative ( IP/10/1288) and replaces the former European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS). The Scoreboard feeds into the recently published Annual Growth Survey ( IP/11/22) to help Member States identify strengths and weaknesses and to boost innovation performance through their Europe 2020 National Reform Programmes.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) will host an international expert roundtable conference on the topic of “Engaging China on Climate Change: Crossroads of 21st-century Foreign Policy” on 2 February 2011 in Brussels. Participants will include the EU institutions and its Member States, leading experts on China and climate change. The roundtable is co-organised with the European Commission (DGs CLIMA and ENER).
La République de Croatie a signé un protocole d'accord avec l'Union européenne en vue de participer au programme ISA concernant des solutions d’interopérabilité pour les administrations publiques européennes. Ce programme vise à faciliter la communication entre les administrations des pays d'Europe par une approche pratique.
Commission approves prolongation of French scheme to grant loans with subsidised interest rate to the real economy
The European Commission authorised under EU state aid rules a twelve-month extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary French scheme for granting aid in the form of loans with subsidised interest rates. The reduced interest rates may be applied for interest payments until 31 December 2013 at the latest. The extended scheme does not apply to companies in difficulties. The Commission therefore found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 4 February 2009 (see IP/09/216), to be in line with the stricter conditions of its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis, adopted in December 2010, to stimulate a gradual return to market conditions (see IP/10/1636).
Commission clears acquisition of joint control over Nuance by PAI and Gecos
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control over The Nuance Group SA ("Nuance") by PAI Partners S.A.S. ("PAI",) and Gecos - Generale di Commercio e Servizi S.p.A. ("Gecos"), the parent company of PAM Group. PAI is a French private equity company which manages and advises dedicated private equity funds. Gecos is the parent company of PAM Group, mainly active in the Italian large-scale food and non-food retailing sector. Nuance is active in the travel retail industry. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The euro area (EA16) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0% in December 2010, unchanged compared with November. It was 9.9% in December 2009. The EU271 unemployment rate was 9.6% in December 2010, unchanged compared with November4. It was 9.5% in December 2009. Eurostat estimates that 23.179 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 15.775 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in December 2010. Compared with November, the number of persons unemployed fell by 19 000 in the EU27 and by 73 000 in the euro area. Compared with December 2009, unemployment rose by 434 000 in the EU27 and by 178 000 in the euro area. These figures are published by Eurostat.
The Commission today welcomes the Council's decision to open consultations with Guinea-Bissau, following the Commission's proposal from 20 December 2010. This initiative is based on Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement and reflects concerns about the situation in Guinea-Bissau in terms of respect for democratic principles and the rule of law. The decision also indicates a willingness to put in place a strategy to end the crisis together with the various parties involved. Part of EU development cooperation will be preliminary suspended.
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