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Daily News – 08.12.2010

EXME 10 / 08.12

Midday Express of 2010-12-08

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

I. Résultats de la Commission du 8 décembre 2010 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 8 December 2010

Renforcement des sanctions en cas d'infraction aux règles de l'UE sur les services financiers: la voie à suivre

La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui une communication sur les possibilités de renforcer les régimes de sanctions dans le secteur des services financiers de l'UE. Les règles actuellement en vigueur divergent largement d'un État membre à l'autre et, souvent, ne constituent pas un moyen de dissuasion efficace. S'appuyant sur un examen des régimes nationaux de sanctions applicables en cas d'infraction aux règles nationales transposant certaines des directives européennes les plus importantes en matière de services financiers, la communication identifie des domaines où des améliorations sont nécessaires et suggère des mesures européennes envisageables pour assurer une plus grande convergence et une meilleure efficacité de ces régimes. Les parties intéressées ont jusqu'au 19 février 2011 pour envoyer leurs contributions.

Services financiers: un cadre réglementaire plus solide pour l'ensemble des acteurs et instruments financiers dans l'UE

La Commission a lancé aujourd'hui, dans le cadre de sa stratégie pour la création d'un système financier plus transparent et plus stable, une consultation concernant la révision de la directive sur les marchés d'instruments financiers (MiFID). En vigueur depuis novembre 2007 (voir IP/07/1625), la MiFID définit un cadre global pour les sociétés d'investissement offrant des services liés aux instruments financiers, ainsi que des règles pour protéger les investisseurs. Elle permet aux places de négociation et aux sociétés d'investissements d'opérer librement dans toute l'UE. Elle a renforcé la concurrence et l'intégration sur les marchés financiers de l'UE et considérablement amélioré la protection des investisseurs. Pourtant, les avancées technologiques rapides, la complexité et la volatilité des marchés financiers ainsi que les leçons de la crise financière appellent une révision en profondeur chaque fois que des insuffisances ont été constatées ou que des améliorations sont jugées nécessaires. L'objectif de cette consultation est de recueillir les contributions de toutes les parties concernées, qui viendront alimenter les propositions législatives prévues au printemps 2011. Le délai de réponse est le 2 février 2011.

Wholesale energy markets: Commission proposes rules to prevent market abuse

The European Commission has today proposed rules on wholesale energy markets to prevent market manipulation and insider trading. The Regulation seeks to ensure market transparency by obliging energy traders to respect clear market rules. Wholesale markets, where gas and electricity is traded between companies producing energy and traders, are key to the prices consumers finally pay.

II. Other news

EU-India Summit on 10 December 2010 in Brussels

EU-India Summit, 10 December 2010The European Union and India will hold their 11th annual Summit in Brussels on 10 December. The EU will be represented by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, accompanied by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and by Karel De Gucht, the EU Trade commissioner. The Republic of India will be represented by Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, assisted by A. Sharma, Minister for Commerce and Industry, and S. Menon, National Security Advisor.

Women Entrepreneurs encouraged to take the plunge

With figures demonstrating that women constitute just 34.4% of the EU's self-employed workforce, the potential for more women led businesses is huge and must be encouraged. The fact that 39.4% of women would choose to be self-employed compared to 50.2% of men shows that women are more reluctant to become entrepreneurs. Within this context, the European Commission in 2009 helped establish the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors whose aim is to have successful female entrepreneurs campaigning to inspire women to set up their own businesses. The second phase of the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors will be inaugurated today during an induction and networking event that is co-organised by the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the European Council.

Digital Agenda: Commission launches consultation on review of EU mobile phone roaming rules

The European Commission is seeking the views of consumers, businesses, telecom operators and public authorities on the EU mobile phone roaming market in a public consultation launched today. The EU Roaming Regulation imposed a cap on retail prices for roamed voice calls and text messages within the EU, but there is still no competitive Single Market for roaming services. Operators generally set roaming prices close to the regulated price caps and maintain unjustifiably high margins on roaming services. The target set by the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581 , MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) is that the difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015. The Commission is inviting parties to evaluate the EU's existing roaming rules and to share their ideas on the best ways to boost competition in roaming services, while protecting the interests of European consumers and businesses. The consultation runs until 11 February 2011 and will provide a basis for a review of the EU's current Roaming Regulation which the European Commission has to carry out before the end of June 2011.

Towards a Single Market for mobile roaming - EMBARGO 19h00 CET

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes will today remind the mobile industry that "Ordinary citizens and businesses cannot understand why operators charge at today’s high levels" for roaming services. The Digital Agenda targets a difference between roaming prices and national prices “approaching zero” by 2015. Kroes will clarify that while the target does not impose a specific mechanism, it will only be achieved if consumers have “rapid and easy choice of a roaming service at, or close to, a relevant competitive domestic price level.” Kroes will say she is not satisfied with current levels of competition and prices, noting that, for example, retail data roaming prices did not match falls in wholesale prices in 2010, leading to “an average retail price that makes consumers’ eyes water. Frankly this is a nightmare for businesspeople, for tourists, for young people in particular.” She will point out that consumers cannot understand how "less than 5 cents for downloading a MB of data at home can turn into €2.60 per MB when they cross an invisible, and mostly artificial, border! Don’t tell me that is all funding new investment in better networks; I can’t defend that to citizens. I can't defend it for the simple reason that it isn’t true." Kroes will refer to the public consultation on the EU mobile phone roaming market launched today (see IP/10/1679). This presents a range of possible policy options from purely structural (competition enhancing and access based) approaches to pure price regulation, with consideration given to whether longer term advances in technology (for instance concerning WiFi access or next generation mobile networks) may render the current problem obsolete. SPEECH/10/735

The Commission reviews EU's humanitarian aid strategy, and acts to improve it

Today the European Commission adopted the mid-term review that looks at the implementationof one of the European Union's landmark policy statements – the 2007 Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, which sets out the EU's common vision, approach and driving principles in humanitarian action. Achievements to date are analysed, and further efforts are outlined, with the goal that the EU remains a world leader in the provision of effective humanitarian aid.

Commission welcomes findings of international student survey (PISA) – European results improve

The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, has welcomed the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide survey on the level of performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. Compiled every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the data show that, on average, European results slightly improved compared to the 2006 survey, especially as regards the share of pupils with low reading competences. However, challenges remain for a number of Member States. The emergence of new global centres of excellence, in particular in Asia, highlights the fact that Europe must continue to improve if it is to maintain its status as a knowledge society.

5 Years on: UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

The European Commission is organising a conference in Brussels on 8 December to mark the 5th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. The aim of the Convention is to ensure that cultural professionals and citizens can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities. The European Commission and 115 countries have ratified it ( full list of parties).The conference, taking place at the Albert Hall (Chaussée de Wavre 649-651), is examining how the Convention is being implemented as a global instrument for cultural cooperation. Panels focus on the role of culture in policies on sustainable development, trade and freedom of expression. Speakers at the event include Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Fadila Laanan, Minister of Culture, Audiovisual Affairs, Health and Equal Opportunities of the French speaking Community in Belgium, Bensalem Himmich, Minister of Culture, Morocco, and Olivia Grange, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Jamaica. The event will conclude with a concert by the legendary Congolese guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku.

Promotion of EU agricultural products outside the EU

The European Commission has approved measures to provide information on, and to promote agricultural products in third countries. Member States submitted 24 programmes to the Commission to be examined. The 7 programmes that have been accepted are from Greece, Italy, Poland and Portugal. The products covered are PGI and PDO, wine, fruit and vegetables, meat, spirits and olive oil. The EU contribution is € 10.9 million (50% of the total budget of the programmes).

Customs: EU/Chinese workshop to combat illicit drug manufacture through better controls

Today, experts from the EU and the People's Republic of China will meet in Marseille (France) for a 4 day workshop to discuss how to better combat illegal drug production through enhanced control on drug precursors. The workshop, which is hosted by French Customs, is the result of a bilateral agreement between the EU and China, to strengthen cooperation on monitoring and controlling drug precursors (see IP/09/193). Drug precursors are substances which are legitimately used to make ordinary products such as soap, paint and food additives, but can also be used to manufacture illegal drugs such as amphetamines, ectasy, cocaine or heroin. For example, 200 g of piperonal, a substance used for manufacturing perfumes, flavourings and anti-mosquito products, is enough to produce 4,000 street doses of ecstasy. China is a key partner in combating illegal imports of drug precursors into the EU. Discussions at the EU-China meeting will focus on how to improve existing controls, especially at borders, and on how to work more closely with the chemical industry to prevent precursors from reaching clandestine drug laboratories. The EU has already entered into similar cooperative arrangements with Turkey, USA, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela and is currently negotiating with Russia. For more information, see:

State aid: Commission approves extension of the Hungarian mortgage support scheme for households affected by financial downturn

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a six-month prolongation (until 30 June 2011) of a Hungarian mortgage support scheme to help households affected by the financial and economic downturn. The Commission found that the extended measures, initially approved on 13 July 2009 (see IP/09/1123), and extended on 24 November 2009 (see MEX/09/1124), were aimed at well-defined objectives of common interest and well designed to deliver these objectives and to limit distortions of competition. The Commission has therefore concluded that they provide aid of a social character to individuals, affected by a temporary income shock and at risk of losing their home, on a non-discriminatory basis and as such are compatible with Article 87(2)(a) of the EC Treaty.

EU27 trade in goods with India relatively balanced in the first nine months of 2010

After having more than doubled in value between 2000 and 2008, EU27 trade in goods with India fell in 2009. EU27 exports decreased from 31.6 billion euro in 2008 to 27.6 bn in 2009 and imports from 29.5 bn to 25.3 bn. The EU27 surplus in trade with India increased from 0.8 bn in 2000 to 2.3 bn in 2009. The first nine months of 2010 showed renewed growth in EU27 trade with India, with exports increasing from 19.7 bn in the first nine months of 2009 to 25.1 bn in the same period of 2010, and imports from 19.1 bn to 24.3 bn. The EU27 trade surplus with India remained nearly stable at 0.7 bn in the first nine months of 2010. In recent years, the share of India in EU27 trade has risen, reaching 2.6% of EU27 exports and 2.2% of EU27 imports in the first nine months of 2010. India is the EU27's 9th most important trading partner. On the occasion of the 11th European Union - India summit, which will take place on 10 December in Brussels, issues data on trade and investments between India and the EU.


Bruges Communiqué: Education Ministers back Commission strategy for vocational training

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, welcomed today's adoption of the 'Bruges Communiqué', a package of objectives and actions to increase the quality of vocational training in Europe by making it more accessible and relevant to the needs of the labour market. Meeting in Bruges, Belgium, Education Ministers from 33 European countries (EU-27, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey), together with representatives of employers and unions and the European Commission, confirmed shared objectives for vocational education and training for the next decade and an action plan for the coming four years. The Bruges Communiqué is the latest revision of the Copenhagen Process for European co-operation on vocational education and training.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo Questions & Answers: Preventing abuse in wholesale energy markets

Memo The Mid-Term Review of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid Action Plan

Memo EU, US to start talks on protecting personal data

Speech by Vice-President Kroes 'Towards a Single Market for mobile roaming' – EMBARGO 19h00 CET

Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Russia Summit, Brussels - rediffusion