EXME 12 / 06.07
Midday Express of 2012-07-06
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
More than 90% of EU citizens find quality and price an important factor when buying food, and more important than origin (71%) and brand (47%) – indeed they were deemed "very important" by 65% (quality) and 54% (price), according to a new EUROBAROMETER survey on food security, food quality and the countryside , which is published today. Quality labels are important for two-thirds of respondents, and there is an improvement on previous years in the recognition of the different EU quality logos. The survey showed that 24% of those asked already recognise the EU organic logo, less than 2 years after it was launched. On food security, three-quarters of EU citizens expressed concern at the challenge of feeding the world’s population, but less than 60% are concerned about the ability of the EU and Member States to meet the food needs of their populations. Most EU citizens regard agriculture as making a positive contribution to preserve rural areas. This is consistent across most Member States and socio-demographic groups. There is a broad consensus that agriculture plays a beneficial role. For the survey, more than 26 500 European citizens aged 15 and above were interviewed in all 27 EU Member States.
A journey of 1500 km through the Alps to highlight the sites of EU funded LIFE projects and the unique characteristics of the mountainous heart of Europe - starting from Slovenia and travelling through Austria, Italy and France to end in the city of Grenoble. This is the sixth edition of SuperAlp!: a sustainable crossing of the Alps organized by the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention.
On the 8th July, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs will attend the international Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo, Japan. The International Conference will take stock of the country's reconstruction process and agree on how to implement development priorities for Afghanistan from 2015 to 2025. He will present the EU's vision of a consolidated partnership with Afghanistan in order to strengthen the country's development.
Quarterly Review of the Euro Area: Export performance can help support growth, especially if supported by the appropriate policies
Against the background of weaker economic activity across the globe, the latest Quarterly Report on the Euro Area examines recent trade developments at the global, EU and Member State level in detail. Overall, world trade activity has recovered reasonably well following the collapse of global trade in 2009 and now seems to be approaching its long-term growth trend, partly thanks to strong demand from emerging market economies. However, global trade growth will probably expand at a slower rate than in the boom years of the previous decade. At the euro area level, the crisis does not seem to have aggravated the downward trend in global export market shares already observed since before the crisis, but seems to have affected the geographical and product specialisation of its exports. Looking ahead, a strong rebound in import demand both from emerging markets and new EU Member States should contribute to support euro area exports in the coming years. There is no indication that the geographical specialisation of exports will prove less supportive for the euro area than for other large advanced economies, such as the US or Japan. At the euro area Member State level, the strength of export performance in recent years appears to have been mainly driven by changes in geographical and product market shares, rather than by countries' initial geographical and sectoral specialisation. Finally, export performance appears to be only partly related to price competitiveness, which reaffirms the need for policy measures – including at the euro area level - to improve non-price competitiveness, including through greater competition in the services sector, export promotion programmes and the promotion of Research and Development and skills. Link to the full report: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/qr_euro_area/2012/qrea2_en.htm
Commission clears acquisition by Bain Capital Investors of Scandinavian Installation Refi
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by US based company Bain Capital Investors, LLC, of sole control over Scandinavian Installation Refi AB, based in Sweden. Bain Capital Investors is part of the Bain Capital group, a family of funds investing in all stages of companies across most industries. Scandinavian Installation Refi AB is the holding company for Bravida, a supplier of service work and installation within the electricity, ventilation and heating, and plumbing sectors in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Bravida also offers services in certain specialist areas, such as consultancy services and technical services management. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Enregistrement d'une dénomination de produit agricole
La Commission européenne a ajouté une dénomination à la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP). Il s'agit, pour la Hongrie, du paprika " Kalocsai fűszerpaprika őrlemény ". Cette dénomination s'ajoute à la liste de plus de 1000 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles sur l'internet à l'adresse: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm
Fisheries: Commissioner Maria Damanaki in Japan to discuss cooperation
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will visit Japan from 9-13 July. The aim of the visit is to strengthen the cooperation between the EU and Japan on fisheries and maritime policies. On 11 July Commissioner Damanaki and Akira Gunji, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, will sign, on behalf of the EU and on behalf of the government of Japan in the field of fisheries, a Joint Statement on mutual cooperation in the fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. The visit's programme also includes meetings with several other ministers and authorities, as well as with NGOs and academia. Commissioner Damanaki will also travel to the Tohoku region, a region which suffered heavily in the 2011 tsunami. The Commissioner will meet with the local authorities and the local community.
Public Health: Panel of independent experts to work on the improvement of health care systems
The Commission adopted today a Decision to set up an independent expert panel, to identify effective ways of investing in health and to make healthcare systems sustainable. The panel will support the reflection process recently initiated by Member States - at the request of the Council. Demographic changes, costly innovation, and rising patients' expectations put constant pressure on the financial sustainability of European health systems. For these reasons, as well as due to the fiscal constraints spawned by the financial crisis, many European Member States have embarked on health system reforms in order to ensure a sustainable provision of high quality care to their citizens. While the management of health services is clearly the competence of Member States, there is immense value in stronger cooperation at European level. Through the reflection process, Member States have committed themselves to sharing experiences and information about good practices. They will soon be able to summon the Commission's expert panel for independent guidance at EU level. This panel will be made up of 17 experts, from several areas of expertise, such as primary care, hospital care, pharmaceuticals, research and development, prevention and health promotion, system financing, information systems and patient registers and health inequalities. They will be appointed by the Commission as a result of an open call for interest, which will be launched in the coming weeks. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/health/healthcare/docs/dec_panel2012_en.pdf
Codex alimentarius : statement by the EU on ractopamine
Following yesterday's vote at the Codex Alimentarius, the European Union reaffirms its position that an international standard for ractopamine is not justified. The European Union remains strongly opposed to the adoption of maximum residue limits (MRLs) for the growth promoting substance, ractopamine, in pigs and cattle as there remain outstanding safety concerns. The European Union's risk assessment body, the European Food Safety Authority, has concluded that there is insufficient data upon which to make a proposal for MRLs for ractopamine and that thereby risks to human health cannot be ruled out. Given its outstanding safety concerns, the European Union's current legislation will remain in place. The European Union, together with other European countries, numbering close to 45 countries, was supported by an overwhelming number of some of the world's most populous nations, namely: China, the Russian Federation, India, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe and others. These countries indicated that they too will maintain their positions and not approve the use of this growth promoting substance. The European Union believes that the decision-making process that led to this result is regrettable. The decision was taken on the basis of a single vote difference. As an international organisation seeking to harmonise standards across the globe, Codex should respect consensus-based decision-making, one of the fundamental principles of the organisation. It is clear that for standards to be universally applicable, they also need to be universally accepted. The European Commission represented EU interests at the 35th session of the annual Codex Alimentarius Commission which is taking place from 2-7 July 2012 in Rome. Bringing together 185 member countries, Codex's aim was to adopt internationally accepted standards on food safety and food quality. For more information on the Codex meeting: http://www.codexalimentarius.org/meetings-reports/en/
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the US company Georgia-Pacific's European consumer products business ("GPE") by Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget SCA AB ("SCA") of Sweden. Both SCA and GPE produce toilet paper and other tissue-based products. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of a number of business activities in the UK, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, where the transaction would have resulted in eliminating a credible competitive constraint to the merged entity. The commitments offered by the parties address these concerns.
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