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Daily News – 06.12.2010

EXME 10 / 06.12

Midday Express of 2010-12-06

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

Digital Agenda: Commission launches consultation on a single Europe-wide phone number for EU businesses

In a public consultation launched today, the European Commission is asking businesses, consumers, telecoms operators and public authorities whether they see benefits in a system that would allow businesses to use the same telephone number in all EU Member States. EU-wide phone numbers could reinforce the EU's Single Market, as outlined by the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581 , MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). An EU wide phone number could help European businesses to offer cross-border sales more easily and facilitate access to after-sales and customer enquiry services irrespective of the Member State where the customer is situated. The consultation will help the Commission assess market demand for European business phone numbers and, if necessary, formulate initiatives for the introduction of such numbers. The consultation will run until 28 February 2011.

Santé des abeilles: une communication de la Commission expose les mesures supplémentaires à prendre dans l’Union

Les abeilles saines jouent un rôle important dans la production de miel et la pollinisation des plantes, telles que les arbres fruitiers. Ces dernières années, plusieurs pays ont constaté un accroissement de la mortalité des abeilles. Afin de mieux comprendre les raisons pour lesquelles la mortalité des abeilles est élevée partout dans le monde, la Commission européenne a présenté aujourd’hui ses idées quant aux mesures spécifiques à prendre. Les études scientifiques menées jusqu’à présent n’ont pu déterminer ni les causes exactes ni l’ampleur précise du problème. La Commission a lancé un certain nombre d’initiatives pour répondre aux enjeux du secteur de l’apiculture et a déjà prévu d’autres actions. L’apiculture est une activité largement répandue dans l’Union européenne. Sur les quelque 700 000 apiculteurs de l’Union, la plupart ne sont pas des professionnels. La communication adoptée aujourd’hui accompagnera les efforts visant à trouver des solutions au problème.

State aid: Commission authorises temporary Slovenian scheme to grant limited amounts of aid of up to € 15,000 to farmers

The European Commission has recently authorised a Slovenian scheme with a budget of approximately € 3.8 million which aims at supporting farmers in Slovenia who encounter difficulties as a result of the current economic crisis. Aid under this scheme can be granted until 31 December 2010 and will take the form of direct grants. This scheme is a further application of the Commission's Temporary framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis, as amended end of October 2009 in order to allow Member States to grant limited amounts of aid to primary agricultural producers (see IP/08/1993).

Vice-President Kallas welcomes Paris Airports' achievements in reducing CO2 emissions

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, today commended Paris-Charles De Gaulle and Paris-Orly Airports for their carbon emissions reductions. At a ceremony, Vice-President Kallas presented Mr Pierre Graff, President and Director General of Aéroports de Paris, with certificates marking the airports' progress under the Airport carbon accreditation scheme, an industry led initiative, launched in June 2009.

Monitoring of excise goods' movements fully computerised from 1st January 2011 – only 4 weeks to go

On 1 January 2011, EMCS (the Excise Movement and Control System), a new computerised system for monitoring the movement of alcohol, tobacco and energy products within the EU, becomes fully operational ( see IP/10/401). Businesses are investing in new processes, organisational structures, and people skills to meet the deadline, but will quickly see the benefits of a fully operational EMCS service through faster completion of excise formalities and improved cash flow. Member States have also made a major investment in EMCS and will benefit from improved monitoring and tools for tackling excise fraud. Member States' authorities and economic operators must join the system by 1 January 2011, marking the end of the transitional period which started on 1 April 2010. As of 1 January 2011 the existing AAD system based on paper forms and following the procedures set out in Council Directive 92/12/EEC no longer has a legal base and cannot be used for new movements. For more details on EMCS see:

Commission closes investigation into proposed JV between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto

The European Commission has closed an investigation into the proposed iron ore production joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto after the companies confirmed they had abandoned the plans. The investigation was started earlier this year (see IP/10/45) under Article 101 of the EU Treaty which bans restrictive business practices. The preliminary results, which were communicated informally to the parties on 15 October, had showed that the JV might give rise to anticompetitive effects on the worldwide market for seaborne iron ore. Three days later the companies announced they had abandoned the plan and this has been confirmed formally to the Commission.


EU-Russia Summit

The 26th EU - Russia Summit will take place in Brussels on 7 December 2010. The Summit will be hosted by Mr Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and by Mr José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Catherine Ashton, and Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht will also attended the Summit. The Russian side will be represented by President Dmitri Medvedev, accompanied by the Foreign Minister of Russia, Mr Sergey Lavrov.

Fair trial rights: EU governments endorse law ensuring suspects’ right to information in criminal proceedings

EU Member States today backed a draft law that ensures defendants’ right to information in criminal proceedings just four months after the Commission’s proposal (see IP/10/989). Suspects of a criminal offence will have to be informed of their rights in a language they understand. The measure will ensure that EU countries will give anyone arrested – or the subject of a European Arrest Warrant – a Letter of Rights listing their basic rights during criminal proceedings. The Commission has provided Member States with a model letter, which will be translated in 22 EU languages. The European Parliament will now have to vote on the measure. Along with the right to translation and interpretation (see IP/10/1305 and MEMO/10/351), the right to information in criminal proceedings is part of a series of fair trial measures that aims to boost confidence in the EU’s single area of justice.

EU Justice Ministers back new rules to bring legal certainty to couples in cross-border divorces

EU Member States today endorsed rules that will bring legal certainty to international couples wishing to divorce. The new legislation will give a choice as to which country's rules apply in case of divorce for couples with different nationalities, those living apart in different countries or those living together in a country other than their home country. It aims to reduce forum shopping and to protect weaker partners during divorce disputes. It marks the first time in history that EU countries use the so-called “enhanced cooperation” mechanism, which allows nine or more Member States to move forward on a measure that is important, but which nevertheless is blocked on the basis of the normal voting rules. Today’s political agreement comes just eight months after the Commission responded to a request by nine Member States to propose legislation (see IP/10/347). Once in place, the rules will apply in 14 EU countries to start with – the remaining countries will have the right to join in the future.

European Commission ready to start talks with US on personal data agreement to fight terrorism or crime

EU Justice Ministers today approved the start of talks between the European Union and the United States on a personal data protection agreement when cooperating to fight terrorism or crime. The European Commission adopted the draft mandate for negotiating such an agreement on 26 May 2010 (see IP/10/609). The aim is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information like passenger data or financial information that is transferred as part of transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters. Once in place, the agreement would enhance citizens’ right to access, rectify or delete data when it is processed with the aim to prevent, investigate, detect or prosecute criminal offences, including terrorism.

Air transport: Single European Sky performance targets agreed; will lead to savings of more than one billion euro

The committee of experts from European Member States have today unanimously agreed the performance targets for the Single European Sky, presented by the European Commission in the areas of environment, capacity/delays, and cost-efficiency for the period 2012 to 2014. The package will deliver significant safety improvements, fewer delays, lower costs and reduced CO2 emissions. For example, airspace users are expected to save €340 million per year or more than €1 billion over the whole period, while at the same time harmful CO2 emissions will be reduced by 500,000 tons a year.

Commissioner Vassiliou salutes MEDIA triumph at European Oscars, Polanski film takes 6 awards

Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, swept the boards at the European Film Awards in Tallinn, Estonia, on 4 December, taking the prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Ewan McGregor), Scriptwriter (Robert Harris & Roman Polanski), Production Designer (Albrecht Konrad) and Composer (Alexandre Desplat). It was one of 18 nominated films at the ceremony supported by the European Union's MEDIA cinema funding programme. Four other MEDIA-backed films were also honoured with Sylvie Testud winning Best Actress for her role in Lourdes, Jaco Van Dormaels' Mr. Nobody receiving the People’s Choice Award, Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist taking the prize for Best Animated Film, and Luc Barnier and Marion Monnier sharing the European Editor Award for Carlos.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo Preparation of Eurogroup and Economic and Finance Ministers Council, 6 and 7 December 2010

Memo Digital Agenda: results of EU Telecoms Council, Brussels, 3 December

Memo Questions and Answers – Honeybee health in the EU

Opening remarks by President Barroso at the European Development Days

Cecilia Malmström welcomes the extension of RABIT Joint Operation in Greece until 2 March 2011 - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner De Gucht 'A Partnership of Equals' - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Cecilia MALMSTRÖM at the "Taking on the Data Retention Directive" conference - rediffusion