EXME 11 / 04.05
Midday Express of 2011-05-04
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
I. College points
Commission appoints two new Deputy Directors General
The Commission has appointed Mr Cecilio Madero Villarejo as Deputy Director-General for Antitrust in the Competition Directorate-General. Mr Madero Villarejo, who is Spanish, is currently Director for Information, Communication and Media in the Competition Directorate-General. Since November 2010, he has been acting Deputy Director-General for Mergers and Antitrust. He will take up his duties on 15 May 2011.
Also appointed to a Deputy Director-General post in the Competition Directorate-General is Mr Bernd Langeheine. A German national, he will be responsible for mergers. Mr Langeheine is currently the Director for e-Communications Policy in the Information Society and Media DG. The decision takes effect on 1 June 2011.
Today, the Commission presented initiatives for a more structured, comprehensive, rapid-response approach from the EU to the challenges and opportunities of migration, not least in view of the current developments in the Mediterranean. The initiatives cover various aspects of migration, including strengthened border control and Schengen governance, completion of the Common European Asylum System, more targeted legal migration, exchange of best practices for successful integration of migrants, and a strategic approach for relations with third countries on migration. These initiatives come in addition to the urgent short-term measures already taken by the Commission to deal with the migration situation in the Mediterranean and migration pressures on frontline Member States.
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between the Brazilian groups Votorantim and Fischer that will combine their respective activities in the orange juice sector. Although the merger will create the world's largest wholesale supplier of orange juice, the Commission concluded, after an in-depth investigation, that there would remain sufficient competition from a number of companies in Europe and worldwide.
II. Other issues
Six research projects selected to compete for two top spots in the area of research into future and emerging technologies (FET) have been announced today by the European Commission at the FET11 conference and exhibition in Budapest. The six contenders will receive around €1.5 million each to refine their proposal for one year, after which only two will be selected. The aim of these flagship initiatives will be to deliver major breakthroughs in information and communication technologies (ICT), with the potential to provide solutions to some of society's biggest challenges. The two initiatives selected for long-term funding will run for 10 years, each with a total budget of up to €100 million per year.
"Science can go beyond fiction when it gets the right support," European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes indicated today at the Future and Emerging Technologies Conference 2011 (FET11) in Budapest. Kroes pointed out that "in times of austerity investments into new opportunities – like investments in scientific research – should be maintained and reinforced if we want to retain our living standards and global competitiveness". She recalled that Commission funding of multi-disciplinary research into future and emerging technologies (FET) has long been an important source of new ideas and indeed new scientific areas and application domains. EU-funded research needs to focus on the grand challenges of the future, where the EU can have a specific added value, so that it may "pave the way for a new century of growth and prosperity for all of us", Kroes said. "We need to do more than write cheques for greater amounts". "We must also co-operate better." "From the Commission to universities to individual researchers - we need new ways of working." FET is one example – investing in 160 projects, with a new focus on high-tech small businesses and young researchers. Today Kroes highlighted the potential of a new generation of 'digital natives' through the FET Young Explorer programme, and a new web app called 'FET-House' aimed at attracting school leavers into ICT research.
In March 2011, compared with February 2011, the volume of retail trade fell by 1.0% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.8% in the EU272. In February retail trade rose by 0.3% and 0.1% respectively. In March 2011, compared with March 2010, the retail sales index decreased by 1.7% in the euro area and by 1.0% in the EU27. In March 2011, compared with February 2011, “Food, drinks and tobacco” declined by 0.6% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU27. The non food sector decreased by 1.1% in both zones. Among the Member States for which data are available, total retail trade declined in thirteen and increased in eight. The largest decreases were observed in Portugal (-4.7%), Slovenia (-3.0%), Germany (-2.1%) and Poland (-1.9%), and the highest increases in Estonia (+2.1%), Romania (+0.8%), Ireland and Latvia (both +0.6%). These first estimates come from Eurostat.
CAP: Call for tenders for a study on value of production of agricultural quality products
The European Commission has launched a call for tenders for a study on the value of production of agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, aromatised wines and spirits protected by a geographical indication. The aim of this study is to update the existing database on the volume, value and trade of agricultural products and foodstuffs under the EU schemes of protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) and to extend it with the relevant information concerning wines and spirits under geographical indications (GIs). The study will also examine the price premium received by products bearing a registered name, assess the evolution of the value, volume and trade of geographical indications during the period 2005-2010, and compare the situation both with standard (non-registered) products and between different GI products and sectors. The maximum budget attributed to this project is € 300 000. The deadline for the submission of offers is 29 July 2011. The Commission intends to award the contract by the end of 2011, following the evaluation of the offers received. The contractor will have to carry out the study within 10 months from the signature of the contract. Details are available at: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/agriculture/tenderdocs/2011/137106/index_en.htm
Commissioner Maria Damanaki at European Seafood Exposition: Europeans want better access to more sustainable fish
Today, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime affairs and fisheries, will visit the European Seafood Exposition at the Brussels Exhibition Centre, Heysel. During her visit, the Commissioner will participate in a roundtable discussion with WWF/Industry Alliance for CFP reform.
This alliance of industrialists and conservationists was formed one year ago at the Seafood Expo to lobby for a real reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Discussions will centre around what industry and policy players can do to end overfishing and discards, guarantee a more efficient and profitable fishing sector and help maximise the value of fish from catch to consumer. In a recent survey they conducted, 88% of Europeans say fish products within the EU should come from stocks that are not overfished. "I am well aware that European citizens want better access to more sustainable fish through a reformed Fisheries Policy", said Commissioner Damanaki. "The European Commission is currently working on a proposal for a changed policy which will hopefully meet these demands." For the new policy, the Commissioner wants to make sustainable fishing the prime, underpinning objective. The policy must be based on long-term planning as the best way to reach and maintain healthy fish stocks at a level which would allow fishermen to fish as much as possible while still having healthy stocks. The wasteful practice of discards must be done away with. Decision-making needs to be simplified and decentralised without top-down micro-management from Brussels. Member states and the fishing industry need to be empowered and better involved. To achieve these goals, behaviours and mindsets will need to change.
Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy visited Cairo on the 2 and 3 May where he met government representatives and a broad range of civil society organisations and other stakeholders. This visit follows up on the recent visits to Egypt made by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, visited Jordan on 1st and 2nd May, where he met with the country's highest authorities, including HM King Abdullah II, Mr. Al Masri, President of the Senate, Mr. Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jafar Hassan, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Mr. Khaled Toukan, Minister of Energy and other senior officials. During his visit, he had a series of meetings with a broad range of Jordanian civil society organisations and representatives.
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