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Daily News – 02.04.2012

EXME 12 / 02.04

Midday Express of 2012-04-02

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Commission to examine tax measures for cross-border workers

Member States' tax provisions are to be scrutinised to ensure that they do not discriminate against cross-border workers, in a targeted initiative launched by the Commission. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million people work cross-border in the EU. Gross wages paid to cross-border and seasonal workers in 2010 amounted to €46.9 billion. Worker mobility has been identified as one of the key potentials for increasing growth and employment in Europe. However, tax obstacles remain one of the key deterrents to citizens looking for work in another Member State.

European Commission appoints new Head of the Regional Office in Milan

Today, Mr. Fabrizio Spada takes office as Head of the Regional Office in Milan. Mr. Spada, currently the Press Officer of the European Commission Regional Office in Milan, brings over 15 years of service in the European Commission to this new position.

Euro area unemployment rate at 10.8% - EU27 at 10.2%

The euro area seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.8% in February 2012, compared with 10.7% in January. It was 10.0% in February 2011. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.2% in February 2012, compared with 10.1% in January. It was 9.5% in February 2011.

Credit rating agencies will start paying fees for their supervision

For the first time, a European Supervisory Authority will finance some of its activities from private sources rather than using the EU's budget or resources from Member States' competent authorities. The Commission's Delegated Regulation that entered into force on 1 April enables the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) – the European supervisor for credit rating agencies (CRAs) – to charge fees to CRAs in order to finance their supervision. The fees charged to CRAs shall fully cover the expenditure relating to their registration and supervision. This regulation determines the matters for which fees are due, the manner in which they are to be calculated and the way in which they are to be paid. This fee setting regime will ensure that ESMA's independence will be kept intact. An amendment of the CRA Regulation (513/2011) which entered into force on 1 June 2011 entrusted ESMA with exclusive supervisory powers over CRAs registered in the EU (starting 1 July 2011) in order to centralise and simplify their registration and supervision at a European level. More information:

Joint Transparency Register for interest representatives boasts 5,000 members

The International Chamber of Shipping has become the 5,000th organisation to sign up to the European Commission and European Parliament's joint Transparency Register. The figure includes registrants in the Commission's older register, who are gradually being transferred to the new one. The Register was launched in June last year to provide more information than ever before on those who seek to influence European policy. It also extends its coverage well beyond traditional lobbyists to include law firms, NGOs, think tanks - indeed any organisation or self-employed individual engaged in EU policy-making and implementation. This is a key step towards the EU's goal of a more participatory democracy. The London-based International Chamber of Shipping describes itself as the principal international trade association for shipowners representing national shipowner associations from 36 nations, including members in EU states who are also members of the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA).

António Vitorino launches mediation process on private copying and reprography levies

António Vitorino, a former Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Portugal as well as a former European Commissioner responsible for Justice and Home Affairs, is today launching a mediation process on private copying and reprography levies. This mediation was announced in May last year in the Commission's Communication on 'A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights '. Michel Barnier, the Commissioner in charge of Intellectual property, decided to appoint António Vitorino as the Mediator. Commissioner Barnier has asked him to identify the best manner to achieve coherence, effectiveness and legitimacy in the implementation and application of the principles and legal framework underpinning private copying and reprography levies. Rightholders have an exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the reproduction of their works (e.g. books, music, films) and other protected subject matter (e.g. phonograms, broadcasts). Member States may however provide for exceptions to this right. The private copying and reprography (copying by means of a photographic technique) exceptions are two of them. Rightholders must receive fair compensation when their protected content is copied by virtue of these exceptions. Member States often provide for fair compensation by imposing levies on goods that are typically used to produce copies (such as blank CDs, recording equipment, MP3 players, computers, printers, scanners, etc.) Important differences however exist between Member States' levy systems, for instance as to which equipment bears a levy, or how high the tariff applied is. These differences affect the smooth functioning of the Single Market. The objective of the mediation process is to identify ways to tackle the discrepancies characterizing the levy systems as set out at national level, as well as to assess the functioning and the scope of the private copying and the reprography exceptions in today's fast evolving digital environment. The results of the mediation will be used to make recommendations for legislative action at EU level. The statement of António Vitorino on the launch of the mediation process is available at the following addresses:

More information:


Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of British Midlands (bmi) by IAG subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the UK airline British Midlands Limited (bmi), by the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company of British Airways and Iberia. The decision is conditional upon the release of 14 daily slot pairs at London Heathrow in order to facilitate new entry, and upon IAG's commitment to carry connecting passengers to feed the long-haul flights of competing airlines out of London Heathrow. In light of these commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns.

EU and Vietnam move closer to starting trade negotiations

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Vietnamese Minister for Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang have concluded preparations for starting negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. Meeting in the margins of the 11th ASEAN-EU Economic meeting in Phnom Penh, they concluded a scoping paper that covered the topics to be included in the future trade negotiations. The completion of this preparatory work is an important stepping stone towards launching trade negotiations with Vietnam because it sets out the framework for the trade negotiations.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Statement of President Barroso following his meeting with Jyrki Katainen, Prime Minister of Finland – rediffusion

Memo "European Union and Ukrainian Negotiators initial Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area" – rediffusion

Memo: "Statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik following the Environment Policy Committee Ministerial Meeting on 29-30 March" –rediffusion

Speech by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik "Resource efficiency is not a choice, it is inevitable" –rediffusion

Speech by VP Almunia at the Lewis Bernstein memorial lecture: "Competition policy for the post-crisis era"