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Daily News – 07.08.2009

EXME09 / 07.08


News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

07 / 08 / 09

  • Aide française au secteur des fruits et légumes: Déclaration de la Commissaire européenne à l'Agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel

"Je tiens à saluer l'engagement constructif des autorités françaises et, en particulier, du ministre de l'alimentation, de l'agriculture et de la pêche, M. Bruno Le Maire, avec qui j'entretiens un dialogue franc, ouvert et régulier, dans le règlement du contentieux sur les aides publiques illégales versées à des organisations de producteurs de fruits et légumes en France entre 1992 et 2002. Ce schéma d'aides, mis en place de façon parallèle à l'organisation commune de marché pour les fruits et légumes, était manifestement incompatible avec les règles que les européens se sont donnés pour défendre l'équité entre leurs producteurs. En s'engageant à remettre la France en conformité avec ces règles partagées et en ouvrant en même temps un dialogue franc et ouvert avec les représentants du secteur, M. Le Maire fait preuve de courage politique et défend l'intérêt français en Europe.Je suis consciente de la complexité de l'exercice entrepris par les autorités françaises visant à réunir tous les détails de ces aides pendant la période concernée. C'est pourquoi j'ai accepté à deux reprises une extension du délai pour la remise du rapport dû par les autorités françaises. Le délai est actuellement fixé au 29 septembre. Mais il va de soi que nous restons ouverts à discuter de l'évolution de cet exercice difficile mais nécessaire pour rétablir la situation. Je tiens à souligner qu'il est dans l'intérêt des agriculteurs européens, et des agriculteurs français notamment, que toutes les aides soient versées selon des règles partagées de façon transparente".

  • Commission clears acquisition of Barclays Vida y Pensiones by Barclays and CNP

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Barclays Vida y Pensiones Compañía de Seguros S.A. (BVP) by Barclays and CNP Assurances (CNP). Barclays is a global financial services provider engaged in retail and commercial banking, credit cards, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services. CNP is a global insurance company, active in life insurance, pension products and some non-life insurance. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure

  • State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Spanish fund for acquisition of financial assets from financial institutions

The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, a prolongation until 31 December 2009 of the Spanish fund for the acquisition of financial assets from financial institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measure, initially approved on 4 November 2008 (see IP/08/1630), to be in line with its Guidance Communication on state aid to overcome the current financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the extended measure provides for non-discriminatory access, is limited in time and scope and foresees adequate safeguards to minimise distortions of competition. The Commission has therefore concluded that the measure represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Spanish economy and as such is compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty.

  • Treatment of waste water improving in the EU but much remains to be done

A Commission report published today on the state of waste water treatment in the European Union shows that notable improvements in water quality have been achieved. It also reveals a number of shortcomings, most notably the treatment of waste water originating from large cities.

There are more than 23,000 towns and cities with a population of more than 2,000 in the European Union. The Urban Waste Water Directive requires them to collect and treat all the waste water they produce. The report shows that 93% of waste water in the EU is collected. Collection rates in the older Member States are near absolute while in the newer Member States collection rates range between 70% and 100% apart from Romania (47%) and Cyprus (49%).

The directive also requires all waste water to undergo biological treatment known as secondary treatment to significantly reduce the biodegradable pollution in waste water. Some 87% of waste water in the EU undergoes such treatment. A number of older Member States comply fully with type of treatment – except for Belgium, France and Portugal – while some newer Member States are progressing well and others – Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – must do more.

Water in sensitive areas – which covers nearly two-thirds of the EU – must undergo special treatment to eliminate nutrients or bacteriological pollution. Stringent treatment is in place for 72% of the population in sensitive areas. There are large discrepancies in older Member States with compliance rates ranging from 13% in Portugal to full compliance in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

More than 98% of the waste water generated by Europe's 300 largest cities is collected. More than 90% of this water undergoes biological treatment. However, only 50% of waste water from large cities located in sensitive areas receives more stringent treatment. And four such cities do not carry out such treatment at all.

The report covers 18 of the 27 Member States that provided information by the 30 November 2008 deadline for the 2005/2006 reference years.

More information: Fifth Report on the Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

  • UN climate negotiations: EU to press for action to meet global warming limit

The European Union will be pressing for further progress towards agreement on an ambitious global regime to tackle climate change at the informal United Nations (UN) negotiations which will take place in Bonn from 10 to 14 August. The informal meeting is the first round of negotiations to be held since the July 9 summit of countries participating in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, at which leaders recognised that global warming should not be allowed to exceed 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature.

At the Bonn talks the EU will be looking for pledges of action on greenhouse gas emissions by all countries to ensure that this goal is met. The informal talks are the third negotiating session held this year to prepare the ground for reaching a new international climate agreement at the UN climate change conference in December in Copenhagen. After delegations substantially added to the draft negotiating text at the last negotiating session in June, the forthcoming week of discussions will give negotiators a chance to get a better of understanding of each others' positions and to start consolidating the text by narrowing down options on the different issues to be addressed. However, the informal nature of the meeting means that no formal decisions or conclusions will be reached. The Commission delegation will be led by Karl Falkenberg, Director-General for Environment. Representatives of the Commission and Member States will give a press conference on Friday 14 August at 14.15 which will be webstreamed live at .

  • The European Commission finances a two-year pilot project in the field of air quality in schools

The European Commission approved today 4 million € intended for a pilot project which aims to expand our knowledge on the indoor air quality of schools and childcare settings.

Currently, there is not enough knowledge concerning indoor air quality in children settings and its impact on children health. Indoor air quality in schools has, in the past been given much less attention in terms of research compared to air quality in other indoor environments. Furthermore, although there is already a comprehensive framework of legislation concerning outdoor air, indoor air regulation is made up of scattered initiatives and pieces of legislation. It is of prime importance to acquire a clear picture of main pollutants in school settings, their influence on health and suggestions for improvement in order to ensure healthy environments for children.

The aim of the project is to gain more knowledge of the indoor air quality of schools as children, who are particularly vulnerable to pollutants, spend most of their time in school environments. Additionally, the aim of the study is to gather knowledge of the numerous situations that could arise in school settings throughout Europe.

This initiative follows a specific request and budgetary appropriation from the European Parliament. It will contribute to achieve the objectives of the European Environment and Health Action Plan on "improving indoor air quality ".

The European Environment and Health Action Plan was adopted in June 2004 and contains 13 actions, grouped around three priority topics: improving information, strengthening research and response. Action 12 refers to improving indoor air quality, by taking action on environmental tobacco smoke and by developing networks and guidelines on other factors affecting indoor air quality (dampness/mould, building materials, indoor effects of outdoor emissions and their health implications).

A call for tenders for this pilot project will be published shortly.