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Daily News – 07.12.2012

EXME 12 / 07.12

Midday Express of 2012-12-07

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Commission launches EU Skills Panorama to tackle skills mismatches

The European Commission today officially launched the EU Skills Panorama , a website presenting quantitative and qualitative information on short- and medium-term skills needs, skills supply and skills mismatches. The Panorama, drawing on data and forecasts compiled at EU and Member State level, will highlight the fastest growing occupations as well as the top 'bottleneck' occupations with high numbers of unfilled vacancies. Currently, there are around 2 million job vacancies across the EU despite high levels of unemployment. The website contains detailed information sector by sector, profession by profession and country by country.

Putting patients in the driving seat: A digital future for healthcare

The European Commission has unveiled an action plan to address barriers to the full use of digital solutions in Europe's healthcare systems. The goal is to improve healthcare for the benefit of patients, give patients more control of their care and bring down costs. While patients and health professionals are enthusiastically using telehealth solutions and millions of Europeans have downloaded smartphone apps to keep track of their health and wellbeing, digital healthcare has yet to reap its great potential to improve healthcare and generate efficiency savings.

EU Consumer Scoreboard says that markets for banking services and for second-hand cars keep failing consumers

EU consumers have once again expressed their dissatisfaction with the performance of some key services markets, according to the Commission’s 2012 Consumer Markets Scoreboard published today. Banking, telecom and energy services score particularly low. Markets for investment products, mortgages and real estate services stay at rock bottom for the third year in a row. Goods markets appear to do better in living up to customers’ expectations, in spite of poor results scored by the automotive, clothing and meat markets.

Assessment of law enforcement tools: no new databases needed at EU level

Exchanging information is an essential tool for law enforcement authorities, both when fighting serious organised crime (such as terrorism, trafficking in human beings, drugs or firearms) and offences committed by individuals across borders (such as murders and sexual violence against children). Today, the European Commission adopted a Communication taking stock of how the information exchange works in the EU today, and recommending practical ways to improve it. It concludes that information exchange generally works well, and no new EU-level law enforcement databases are therefore needed at this stage. However, the existing EU instruments should be better implemented, and exchange of information should be organised more consistently - in particular by creating Single Points of Contact for law enforcement agencies in all Member States. The Communication emphasises the need to ensure high data quality and to respect data protection rules, and also explains how the EU will provide support, including funding and training, for Member States.

First estimate for the third quarter of 2012 - EU27 current account surplus 28.4 bn euro - 40.9 bn euro surplus on trade in services

The EU27 external current account recorded a surplus of 28.4 billion euro in the third quarter of 2012, compared with a deficit of 9.1 bn in the third quarter of 2011, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the third quarter of 2012, compared with the third quarter of 2011, the deficit of the goods account strongly decreased (-10.1 bn euro compared with -34.4 bn), while the surplus of the services account reached a record level (+40.9 bn compared with +31.1 bn). The surplus of the income account also rose (+14.9 bn compared with +12.1 bn), while the deficit of the current transfers account fell slightly (-17.3 bn euro compared with -18.0 bn).

Commission clears acquisition of Euro Druckservice Group by LBO France Gestion

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Euro Druckservice Group by LBO France Gestion. The Euro Druckservice Group is a provider of printing solutions and related services in Central and Eastern Europe. LBO France Gestion is a private equity investor. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of Canadian Nexen by Chinese offshore oil and gas explorer

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of Canadian company Nexen Inc by Chinese group China National Offshore Oil Corporation (“CNOOC Group”). Both Nexen and CNOOC Group are active in oil and gas exploration and production and related activities in different regions of the world. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission approves prolongation of German bank support scheme

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of a German aid scheme for banks until 30 June 2013. The scheme covers guarantee, risk assumption, and recapitalisation measures in favour of banks operating in Germany. The conditions of the original scheme, as last amended on 29 June 2012, remain largely the same. New elements have been introduced with regard to the financing of the scheme and the remuneration of guarantees for debt instruments with a maturity longer than three years (step-up clause). Moreover, the prolonged scheme is reserved for banks, while other financial institutions are no longer eligible for support. The Commission found the prolongation of the measures, initially approved on 27 October 2008 (see IP/08/1589), modified on 12 December 2008 (see IP/08/1966), prolonged on 22 June 2009, 17 December 2009, 23 June 2010 (see MEX/09/0622 , MEX/09/1217 and IP/10/789), reactivated on 5 March 2012 and prolonged on 29 June 2012 (see MEX/12/0305 and MEX/12/0629) to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/09/322 , IP/10/1636 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the prolonged measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the German economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou to call for more ICT in education at Education Ministers' conference in Oslo

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will outline some of the ideas which will be explored as part of the Commission's new strategy on 'Opening up Education' when she addresses European Ministers and high-level policy-makers in Oslo on Monday (10 December). The way in which education and training systems can fully reap the benefits of modern technologies is at the core of the meeting, organised by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Cyprus Presidency of the EU. The Commission intends to launch its new strategy, focused on the use of ICT and open educational resources (OER) to enhance education and skills development, by mid-2013. "The digital revolution must not stop at the classroom. The web, social networks and online open educational resources offer huge possibilities to modernise teaching and learning. These are areas where EU cooperation adds value and delivers results," said Commissioner Vassiliou ahead of her visit. Ministers of Education from EU Member States, candidate countries as well as EFTA states will participate in the two-day event. For more details, see:
DG Education and Culture , Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU

Promoting the universality of Human Rights: 14th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum

The 14th EU-NGO Human Rights Forum took place in Brussels on 6 and 7 December. It brought together over 200 civil society participants from all parts of the world, representatives from international and regional human rights mechanisms and from EU institutions and Member States.

La nouvelle aide de L'UE au Burkina Faso fournira une aide alimentaire à plus de 137,000 personnes

L'Union européenne (UE) va mobiliser des fonds additionnels de 25 millions d'euros pour aider le gouvernement du Burkina Faso dans sa réponse à la crise alimentaire. Le programme d'appui, qui sera mis en œuvre par le Programme Alimentaire Mondiale des Nations Unies, fournira entre autres une aide alimentaire à plus de 137,000 personnes. L'aide alimentaire sera accordée en priorité aux familles dirigées par des femmes et comprenant des personnes âgées ainsi que des enfants en bas âge. Un panier alimentaire hautement nutritif comprenant des céréales, des légumineuses et de l'huile végétale sera fournie à 22,852 ménages - soit plus de 137,000 personnes durant quatre mois afin de leur assurer une sécurité nutritionnelle. Une partie des fonds seront également utilisés pour offrir à 32,406 ménages des vivres ou de l'argent en échange de travaux d'intérêt commun, comme par exemple la réhabilitation de voie d'accès.


EU requests WTO dispute settlement panel over Argentina's import restrictions

The EU has today requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to rule over a dispute on Argentina's import restrictions which are damaging to European business. The EU is taking this action, along with Japan and the United States, to force Argentina to lift these measures which have been harmful to European trade and investment for more than 18 months. These measures potentially affect all EU exports to Argentina, worth €8.3 billion in 2011. Today's decision follows efforts by the EU to find a solution with Argentina through WTO dispute settlement consultations during the summer which ended without success.

New regional programmes to support media, culture and private sector development in the Southern Mediterranean

EU announces further support for reform in Lebanon

The European Commission made available additional funding to further assist the Government of Lebanon. Three new programmes will focus on improving the quality of public service and providing the basis for inclusive economic growth for the benefit of everyone living in Lebanon and improving public education at both school and vocational training centre level, as well as promoting social justice, helping to create jobs.

A l'occasion du Conseil d'Association avec l'Algérie, l'UE décide de poursuivre l'appui à la réforme administrative, à la bonne gouvernance et à la diversification de l'économie

La septième session du Conseil d'Association UE Algérie a eu lieu aujourd'hui à Bruxelles. La Commission européenne était représentée par M. Štefan Füle, membre de la Commission Européenne chargé de l'élargissement et de la Politique Européenne de Voisinage.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo Nobel Peace Prize 2012 awarded to European Union – Press pack available – rediffusion

Memo "Competitiveness Council – 10-11 December 2012"

Speech by Vice-President Reding: "A European Union grounded in justice and fundamental rights" - rediffusion

Memo "eHealth action plan 2012-2020: Frequently Asked Questions"

Memo "Q&As: EU's challenge to Argentina's import restrictions at the WTO" – rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner A. Semeta: "Combatting Tax Evasion: A Tougher EU approach" - rediffusion

Discours du Commissaire M. Barnier "Adapter le droit d'auteur à l'ère du numérique: les prochaines étapes – "Licensing Europe" - rediffusion