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Daily News – 03.12.2012

EXME 12 / 03.12

Midday Express of 2012-12-03

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Digital Agenda: Commission proposes rules to make government websites accessible for all

Over 100 million EU citizens would find it easier to use online public services to look for a job, register a car, submit a tax declaration and apply for a passport or driving license thanks to new rules proposed today by the European Commission on the International Day of People with Disability . The Commission's proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites would introduce mandatory EU standardised accessibility features, from the end of 2015, for 12 types of websites. Mandatory accessibility would apply to essential government services like social security and health related services, job searches, university applications and issuing of personal documents and certificates (see annex for full list) The proposed new rules would also clarify what web accessibility means (technical specs, methodology for assessment, reporting, bottom up testing), and governments would be encouraged to apply the rules across all services, not only the mandatory list.

Antitrust: Commission opens proceedings against Bulgarian Energy Holding

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Bulgarian Energy Holding may be abusing its dominant market position in the wholesale electricity market in Bulgaria. The Commission has concerns that Bulgarian Energy Holding might be hindering competition on wholesale electricity markets in Bulgaria and neighbouring Member States through territorial restrictions. Such behaviour would breach EU antitrust rules. An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it only means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority.

GMES: good for environment, good for jobs!

GMES, Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, the European Commission’s earth observation programme will create 83 000 jobs in Europe by 2030. This is the result of a study presented by European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani today during the London conference "European Space Solutions", an initiative of the European Commission, hosted by the UK Space Agency. GMES's primary objective is to provide information services giving access to accurate data in several environmental and security fields and tailored to users' needs.

Vassiliou pays tribute to Michael Haneke as Amour dominates European Film Awards

European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has paid tribute to the "exceptional talent" of Austrian director Michael Haneke after his film Amour scooped the four main prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Best Actress (Emmanuelle Riva) at the 25th European Film Awards in Malta yesterday (2 December). Amour, a French-Austrian-German co-production, focuses on the enduring love of an elderly couple as they confront the realities of ageing and death. Helen Mirren (The Queen, The Madness of King George) was honoured with the European Achievement in World Cinema award and Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Nearly all the winning films received funding through the European Commission's MEDIA programme. Commissioner Vassiliou said: "This 25th anniversary of the European Film Awards is an opportunity to reflect on the excellence of our directors, writers, actors, camera operators and all the other specialists who make our films the envy of the world. This year's crop of winners are no exception. I was fortunate to see the premiere of Amour at Cannes this year, where it deservedly won the Palme d'Or. Michael Haneke is a director of exceptional talent and originality. All of his films are special but Amour is possibly the best thanks to outstanding performances by the two leads. I'm also delighted that our MEDIA fund has supported the development and distribution of so many of this year's winning films. There could be no better testament to the added value of this programme, which will continue to fund European films under our new Creative Europe programme." The annual European Film Awards are organised by the European Film Academy, which was founded in 1988 and brings together 2,700 European film-makers with the aim of promoting Europe’s film culture. The EU's MEDIA programme supports the Academy with an annual grant of €175 000. Full list of winners: European Film Awards 2012. To find out more: MEDIA Programme ; Commissioner Vassiliou's website ; Twitter @VassiliouEU.

(for more information: D. Abbott - Tel. +32 229 59258 - Mobile +32 498 95 9258)

Commissioner Andor: older people's contribution to society

"The Year has given us a fresh perspective on the ageing of the population. Once we saw the growing numbers of older people as a problem. Today we have started to recognise them as part of the solution — if they can achieve their potential and we can take advantage of it", underlined László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the Closing Seminar of European Year 2012 for active ageing and solidarity between generations in Braga, Portugal. He added that by highlighting the contribution that older people make to society, the European Year has brought about a positive change in the way people view ageing and has mobilised a wide range of stakeholders across Europe. He concluded by saying that "We must not neglect the longer-term view and the need to continue investing in our human capital — our greatest asset. I intend looking at these issues in an ambitious social policy initiative we are calling the social investment package, to be presented early next year. The idea is that social policy — implemented via well-designed, activating, flexible systems — can and should be a social investment that can yield a high economic and social return." EMBARGO 14h30

Maritime Policy: Commission launches new strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas

The European Commission has adopted a maritime strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas that will boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region. The strategy rests on 4 pillars: a stronger blue economy, a healthier marine environment, a safer maritime space, and responsible fishing activities. It builds on the Commission's Blue Growth initiative and on the "Limassol Declaration on a marine and maritime agenda for growth and jobs", recently adopted by EU Ministers. The vision behind the initiative: making the sea a central space of innovation, economic opportunities and prosperity for all the countries around it.

At risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU27 - In 2011, 24% of the population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion - Corresponding to around 120 million persons

In 2011, 119.6 million people, or 24.2% of the population, in the EU27 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with 23.4% in 2010 and 23.5% in 2008. This means that they were at least in one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty, severely materially deprived1 or living in households with very low work intensity1. The reduction of the number of persons at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU is one of the key targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. In 2011, the highest shares of persons being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in Bulgaria (49%), Romania and Latvia (both 40%), Lithuania (33%), Greece and Hungary (both 31%), and the lowest in the Czech Republic (15%), the Netherlands and Sweden (both 16%), Luxembourg and Austria (both 17%).

Commission clears joint control of EXIM by REWE and Ferid Nasr

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition by the German retail and tourism group REWE of a 51% stake in EXIM Holding a.s., a Czech joint stock company active in the tourism sector in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. EXIM is currently solely-controlled by Mr Ferid Nasr. The Commission considered that the concentration would only lead to two marginally affected markets in the Czech Republic, namely the market for the purchase of charter airline seats to short haul destinations and the market for the supply of foreign short-haul package holidays. However, given the very small additional market shares REWE would add to EXIM's moderate positions on those markets and the presence of several credible competitors, the Commission considered that the concentration does not raise competition concerns. The operation was examined under the ordinary merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of N/C+ by Canal+

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Polish-based N/C+ by Canal+ of France. Canal+ produces, distributes and market television channels and services over all types of platforms and N/C+ provides pay TV services via direct to home satellite in Poland. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Fisheries: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for the Black Sea for 2013

The European Commission has presented its proposal for fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2013. Only two Member states are concerned by the proposals: Bulgaria and Romania. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes. For sprat, the Commission proposes to keep the EU quota unchanged, at 11,475 tonnes. The EU quota for turbot is divided evenly between Bulgaria and Romania. For sprat, Bulgaria and Romania's national quotas are set at 70 and 30 % of the total EU quota, respectively. The proposal takes into consideration the advice by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and will be discussed by EU member states ministers at the December Fisheries Council. For more information on TACs and quotas and the text of the proposal:

Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn calls for a more prominent role for EU cities in future Regional Policy

Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will make the case for a new approach to urban policy and communities when he addresses the URBACT Annual Conference today in Copenhagen. More than two-thirds of Europeans live in cities, where many of Europe's most pressing challenges such as unemployment, marginalisation and poverty are concentrated. But Commissioner Hahn will argue that cities also offer the greatest potential for innovation and that action in Europe's cities have the greatest impact, whether it is in the field of renewable energy, sustainable transport, job creation or integration. Commissioner is urging cities themselves to lobby for a central role in planning the next of programmes and projects for the next budget period 2014-20. URBACT is an EU initiative involving 300 cities – and nearly two-thirds of Europe's capitals. Its aim is to build networks, exchange information and to provide concrete help in setting up EU-funded projects so as the have the maximum and effectiveness in the use of investments.


Eindhoven, Leeuwarden and Maastricht to compete for title of European Capital of Culture 2018

The selection panel appointed to assess the Dutch cities vying to be European Capital of Culture in 2018 met in Amsterdam today and recommended that Eindhoven, Leeuwarden and Maastricht should be preselected for the title. The preselected cities will now flesh out their applications ahead of the second and final selection round. The selection panel will meet again in September 2013 to recommend the city which should be the European Capital of Culture in 2018, together with Valletta in Malta.

Concentrations: la Commission autorise l’acquisition du prestataire belge de services d’assistance en escale Aviapartner par LBO France

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement de l’UE sur les concentrations, le projet d’acquisition de l’entreprise belge Aviapartner par l’entreprise française WFS, contrôlée en dernier ressort par des fonds gérés par LBO France. Aviapartner et WFS fournissent toutes deux des services d’assistance en escale ainsi que d’autres services liés au fret. L’enquête de la Commission a montré que l’entité issue de la concentration continuerait à subir une forte concurrence de la part des prestataires de services d’assistance en escale sur tous les marchés concernés, que les barrières à l’entrée étaient généralement assez faibles, l’accès demeurant ainsi ouvert à de nouveaux arrivants, et que les clients disposaient d’une puissance d’achat significative.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "Preparation of Economic and Finance Ministers Council, Brussels, 4 December 2012"

(for more information: MEMO/12/935 - S. O'Connor – Tel. +32 229 67359– Mobile +32 460 76 7359)

Speech by Commissioner L. Andor: "Commissioner Andor: older people's contribution to society" – Embargo 14:30 CET

(for more information: SPEECH/12/892 - J. Todd - Tel. +32 229 94107 - Mobile +32 498 99 4107)

Speech by Commissioner Karel De Gucht: "EU - China: A new growth equation" – rediffusion

Press release on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), the European Commission’s earth observation programme