EXME08 / 02.12
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
02 / 12 / 08
The European Commission and the Arab Republic of Egypt will sign today in Brussels a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance EU-Egypt energy cooperation. The areas covered by the Memorandum are, among others, energy market reforms and convergence of Egypt’s energy market with that of the EU, promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, development of energy networks as well as technological and industrial cooperation. The Memorandum will be signed by Commissioners for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Energy, Andris Piebalgs, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
La Commission européenne a publié une étude sur les activités, la régulation et la surveillance des organismes de prêts hypothécaires qui n'entrent pas dans la catégorie des établissements de crédit en vertu du droit national. Cette étude montre que, dans la plupart des États membres, les prêteurs qui exercent leur activité en dehors du cadre légal de l'UE relatif aux établissements de crédit sont régulés et surveillés par les autorités nationales, et détiennent une part du marché national plus petite que les établissements de crédit. L'étude aidera la Commission à évaluer la nécessité d'une action communautaire dans ce domaine. Elle fait suite au livre blanc de décembre 2007 sur l'intégration des marchés du crédit hypothécaire dans l'UE (IP/07/1955). Les parties prenantes sont invitées à transmettre leurs observations sur l'étude d'ici au 28 février 2009.
The European Commission is launching a new European Union prize for contemporary literature. The aim is to put the spotlight on the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature, to promote more circulation of literature within Europe and encourage greater interest in non-national literary works. The first edition of the Prize will be awarded in autumn 2009.
On the eve of a meeting of 27 national enforcement agencies and stakeholder groups in Brussels, Vice President Tajani, EU Transport Commissioner and EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva have stepped up pressure on airline companies selling tickets on the web to meet their legal obligation to fully comply with all the requirements of EU law. In a joint letter to the airline representatives, the two Commissioners have set out a 30 point checklist of consumer rights which all web pages selling air tickets must respect. Following industry feedback, the checklist will be consolidated. The Commission's letter requests that members of the airline associations amend all websites to ensure they fully comply with all the listed obligations. A user friendly version of the checklist should also be made available on websites for consumers. The letter informs the airline representatives that the Commission intends to make public the results of "health check" of the sector- an independent study which will identify compliant and non-compliant operators - in May 2009. The work with industry is taking place in parallel with additional efforts by the Commission to increase enforcement controls at national level. Commission Kuneva addressed Ministers at the Competition Council on 1st December 2008 calling on them to concentrate all the necessary additional efforts and resources on the airline investigation to enable a final wrap up in May 2009. The letter from Vice President Tajani and Commissioner Kuneva makes it clear that if national authorities persistently fail to act on violations of the law, the Commission would need to consider infringement procedures.
In October 2008 compared with September 2008, the industrial producer price index fell by 0.8% in the euro area (EA15) and by 1.4% in the EU27. In September, prices decreased by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively.In October 2008 compared with October 2007, industrial producer prices increased by 6.3% in the euro area and by 7.3% in the EU27.These figures come from Eurostat.
In the EU27, 60% of households had access to the internet during the first quarter of 2008, compared with 54% during the first quarter of 2007, and 48% had a broadband internet connection, compared with 42% in 2007. These data published by Eurostat represent only a small part of the results of a survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals in the EU27 Member States, Norway, Iceland and Croatia. As well as internet use and broadband connections, the survey also covers other indicators such as e-shopping, e-government and advanced communication and content related services.
The Commission welcomes the approval by the Council of its proposal to raise the overall ceiling in the Regulation providing for medium-term financial assistance to Balances of Payments (BoP) to €25 billion from €12 billion. The proposal was made on 31 October at the same time as the Commission approved a BoP loan to Hungary. Council Regulation 332/2002 foresees that the EU can grant mutual assistance to a Member State outside the euro area "in difficulties or seriously threatened with difficulties as regards its balance of payments either as a result of an overall disequilibrium in its balance of payments or as a result of the type of currency at its disposal". The Treaty legal basis is Article 119.
The European Commission today adopted a decision allowing Bulgaria and Romania to extend the deadline for payments of SAPARD funds by one year, from 31 December 2008 to 31 December 2009. Both countries faced delays in payments partly because of limited administrative capacity to manage the SAPARD programmes and partly because of a low absorption capacity of beneficiaries of the programme, with a consequent back loading of funds. Furthermore, national and EU payments under the programme were stopped in the middle of this year, due to weaknesses and deficiencies in the payments and controls. The extension of the deadline will give the Bulgarian and Romanian authorities extra time to ensure that these problems are properly addressed before final payments are made. SAPARD is a Community framework for supporting sustainable agricultural and rural development in the candidate countries during the pre-accession process. For Bulgaria and Romania, payments of SAPARD funds were normally allowed until the end of 2008.
The European Commission has adopted the Action Plan on e-signatures and e-identification to facilitate the provision of cross-border public services in the Single Market. Public authorities offer more and more public services by electronic means (‘e-services’), but the implementation has been focusing very much on national needs and means. This approach creates new ‘e-barriers’ to cross-border markets and hampers a well-functioning Single Market, as it limits access for enterprises and individuals from other Member States to those public services. In addition Member States run the risk of not complying with their legal obligations under EU legislation, in particular under specific internal market instruments such as the Services Directive and the Public Procurement Directives. See also: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/strategy/index_en.htm#agenda
The European Commission has expressed its grave concern over the violence that broke out in Jos, Plateau State in Nigeria, on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November following local elections held there.
La Commission européenne a autorisé, en application du règlement CE sur les concentrations, le projet d’acquisition du contrôle en commun de Porterbrook Leasing Company Limited et de ses filiales (Porterbrook), Royaume-Uni, par Deutsche Bank AG (PB), Allemagne, Lloyds TSB Bank plc, Royaume-Uni et Antin Infrastructure Partners FCPR, un fonds d'investissement britannique contrôlé par BNP Paribas SA (BNP), France. La Commission a conclu que l’opération envisagée n'entraverait pas de manière significative l’exercice d’une concurrence effective dans l'Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.
A new agreement governing the wine trade between Australia and the European Union was signed in Brussels today by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith. This agreement will replace the one signed in 1994.
Following the tragic events in India that have already claimed more than 170 lives, the European Union, through its Community Civil Protection Mechanism, helped evacuate injured European citizens. EU Member States, namely France and Sweden, joined forces to provide medical evacuation for citizens from the UK and Spain.