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Daily News – 12.12.2011

EXME 11 / 12.12

Midday Express of 2011-12-12

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Significant boost in EU support for the environment and climate through the new LIFE programme

The Commission proposes to allocate EUR 3.2 billion over 2014-2020 to a new Programme for the Environment and Climate Action - LIFE. The proposed new programme will build on the success of the existing LIFE+ Programme but will be reformed to have a greater impact, be simpler and more flexible and have a significantly increased budget.

Digital Agenda: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg invited by Kroes to promote internet freedom globally

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has invited Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, in Germany, to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes. This appointment forms a key element of a new "No Disconnect Strategy" to uphold the EU's commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.

Digital Agenda: Turning government data into gold

The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe, which is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year. Europe’s public administrations are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential: the large volumes of information collected by numerous public authorities and services. Member States such as the United Kingdom and France are already demonstrating this value. The strategy to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

Improved monitoring and reporting on financial instruments related to EU cohesion policy

The European Commission welcomes the approval today by the EU Member States to improve the monitoring and reporting on financial instruments available under cohesion policy like guarantee schemes to finance the start up of new small companies. This will mean that Member States will have to report once a year on progress made in financing and implementing these instruments. Such reporting will allow the Commission to better assess the overall performance of financial instruments across Member States. Together with additional information to be presented with each statement of expenditure, the Commission will be able to produce accurate and comprehensive accounts, which give a true image of the Union's assets and of the actual budgetary implementation.

EUROSUR: 'connecting the dots' in border surveillance

Today the European Commission proposed to establish a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) with the aim of increasing coordination within and between Member States to prevent and tackle serious crime, such as drug trafficking and the trafficking of human beings, and to diminish the unacceptable death toll of migrants at sea.

Worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen triggers a €5 million boost in European assistance

Concerned by the effects of persistent instability, drought and poverty on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in Yemen, the European Commission is today increasing its humanitarian funding with an additional €5 million. The decision brings the Commission's 2011 humanitarian allocation for Yemen to €25 million and the total EU humanitarian funding to almost €60 million.

Workers' remittances in the EU27. Money transferred by migrants to their country of origin up by 3% to 31 bn euro in 2010

In the EU27, money sent by migrants to their country of origin, usually referred to as workers' remittances, registered a constant increase until 2008, mainly due to extra-EU27 flows. This trend was interrupted in 2009 by the economic crisis, but 2010 brought a partial recovery, although figures remain below 2007 levels. Total EU27 outflows amounted to 31.2 billion euro in 2010, compared with 30.4 bn in 2009 (+3%). These figures include both intra-EU27 and extra-EU27 flows. The increase in workers' remittances in 2010 compared with 2009 was higher for intra-EU27 flows (+6%) than for extra-EU27 flows (+1%). The share of extra-EU27 remittances in the total stood at 72% in 2010, the same level as in 2009. The outflow of workers' remittances was highest in 2010 in Spain (7.2 bn euro or 23% of total EU27 remittances), Italy (6.6 bn or 21%), Germany (3.0 bn or 10%), France (2.9 bn or 9%), the Netherlands (1.5 bn or 5%) and Greece (1.1 bn or 3%). Among these Member States, the share of extra-EU27 remittances in the total ranged between 67% in Germany and 91% in Greece. In 2010, the majority of Member States recorded similar levels of outflows of workers' remittances to 2009.

Russia Summit EU: EU27 trade in goods with Russia up by 27% in the first nine months of 2011

EU27 trade in goods with Russia partly recovered in 2010, after the sharp drop recorded in 2009 which interrupted a long period of growth. EU27 exports to Russia fell from 105 billion euro in 2008 to 66 bn in 2009, then rose to 86 bn in 2010. Imports decreased from 178 bn in 2008 to 118 bn in 2009, then increased to 160 bn in 2010. As a result, the EU27 trade deficit with Russia increased from 52 bn euro in 2009 to 74 bn in 2010. The first nine months of 2011 showed continued growth in EU27 trade with Russia. Exports rose from 61 bn in the first nine months of 2010 to 79 bn in the same period of 2011, and imports from 117 bn to 146 bn. As a result, the EU27 trade deficit with Russia increased from 56 bn in the first nine months of 2010 to 67 bn in the same period of 2011. In the first nine months of 2011, Russia was the EU27's third most important trading partner after the USA and China, accounting for 7% of EU27 exports and 12% of EU27 imports.

Commissioner Hahn visits Greece and meets with Prime Minister on structural funds

Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will visit Greece from 13 14 December to discuss actions to improve and speed up the use of structural funds to create growth and jobs with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Minister for Regional Development and Competitiveness Michalis Chrysoides and various other ministers. The visit will focus on the importance for Greece to remove administrative bottlenecks and how to replace them with efficient procedures to invest EU funds in high quality projects. The European Commission has already taken several actions to assist Greece in improving the use of EU funds and alleviate the strain on public finances, such as an increase in co-financing rates for EU-funded projects, without changing the overall allocated amount for this period. Commissioner Hahn will furthermore visit EU-funded projects in the Athens region. Mr. Horst Reichenbach, Head of the Task Force for Greece (TFGR) of the European Commission, will accompany the Commissioner during his visit and will also hold separate meetings with the representatives of Greek administration and other counterparts in relation to the work of the TFGR.

Monthly Labour Market Fact Sheet – December 2011

The number of Europeans still looking for work in the EU-27 has returned to the peak recorded since the start of the crisis. Europe's unemployment rate edged up to 9.7 % in September 2011, or by 0.1 pp. This is 0.3 pp up on March 2011 and is the same level as the peak recorded in the first half of 2010. Unemployment in the euro area also increased by the same proportion, hitting 10.2%. The overall number of jobless has been growing since February 2011 by 585,000, reaching 23.3 million in September - only 75,000 short of the peak recorded in April 2010. The improvement seen in the months up to March 2011 has been progressively offset by the more recent rise in unemployment. Although Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Hungary and Ireland have seen unemployment fall slightly, many Member States have seen the number of job-seekers grow further. Even countries recording lower-than-average unemployment rates are now posting rises. This includes Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia. Most of the countries recording already high unemployment rates have seen these grow even further, such as Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Slovakia and Greece. Youth unemployment remains a key concern in the EU and has been growing again since February 2011 up by 98,000 overall to reach 5.3 million in September 2011, at a rate of 21.4%. This is an increase of 0.2 pp on the previous month and up 0.5 pp on September 2010. This rate equals the peak level recorded in February 2010. In the current economic context, most European consumers expect unemployment to rise in the next month, while employers believe that employment will shrink in the tertiary sector and in construction. On the brighter side, hiring activity remains positive with online labour demand ‑ i.e. employer online recruitment activity – continuing to grow, but at a slower pace, while growth in the agency work sector has slowed down further. At the same time, restructuring activity increased in October, with a negative impact on jobs. The outlook remains uncertain, with a greater risk of deterioration than improvement. Link to the Fact Sheet:

Fisheries: Commission welcomes European Court of Auditors report on fishing overcapacity

Today, the European Commission welcomed the report, by the European Court of Auditors, evaluating whether EU measures have contributed to adapting the capacity of EU fishing fleets to available fishing opportunities. The Court concluded that current measures have failed. Overcapacity of the fishing fleet continues to be one of the main reasons for the failure of the Common Fisheries Policy in ensuring sustainable fisheries. A new approach may be needed or existing measures must be better enforced. The Commission shares most of the observations and the recommendations of the Court. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “The report of the Court of Auditors reinforces my conviction that business as usual is not an option. We need new ideas. In our proposals for a new Common Fisheries Policy we want to break with the past. We are addressing overcapacity through a system of transferable fishing concessions at national level and with safeguards to avoid concentration of ownership. In the new financial instrument, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, we propose to no longer finance scrapping of vessels, but instead spend the money on projects which will make a real difference."

Commission to engage with customers on how to improve the EU postal sector

A Postal Users Forum to get direct feedback from customers (consumers, businesses and e-retailers) on the overall effects of the postal liberalisation in Europe is taking place in Brussels today. Organised by the European Commission, the Forum will identify constructive ways to deliver better postal services to customers across the EU. More than 100 participants representing postal operators, regulators, ministries, unions, associations and other stakeholders are attending attend. Chaired by Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier, the Forum will address three main topics in particular: the level of consumer satisfaction; the needs of business mailers; and how delivery services for e-commerce can be better secured. Finally, participants will be invited to engage in a more general debate on the sustainability of the postal sector, addressing issues related to the quality of the universal postal service, employment, innovation and customer-focused regulation. More information:

Commissioner Hedegaard to attend Global Sustainability Panel in New York

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will visit New York on 13 and 14 December for the final meeting of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which has been mandated to formulate a global blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity ahead of the 'Rio +20' UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012. Commissioner Hedegaard was appointed to the Global Sustainability Panel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon when he created it last year. The Global Sustainability Panel will present its final report at the beginning of next year.

Commission clears the acquisition by Socimac and Bolloré of joint control over Société d'exploitation du Terminal de Vridi.

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Socimac (Ivory Coast), a wholly owned subsidiary of A.P. Møller-Mærsk (Netherlands), and Bolloré (France) of joint control over Société d'exploitation du Terminal de Vridi (Ivory Coast), by way of purchase of shares. A.P. Møller-Mærsk is active in containerised liner shipping, terminal services, inland transportation; logistics; harbour towage; tankers; oil and gas exploration and production; retail; air transport. Bolloré is active in transportation and logistic services; manufacture of plastic films, ticket machine terminals, batteries and electric vehicles; fuel distribution; communication and media including advertising; commercialization of plantations. Société d'exploitation du Terminal de Vridi develops, manages and operates a container terminal within the Port Autonome d'Abidjan and provides services to its common users. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

GMOs: Member States fail to endorse proposals to authorise two GM soybean products

Two proposals to authorise genetically modified (GM) soybean products were not endorsed today by Member States during a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH).They will be examined by the appeal committee set up by Regulation (EC) No. 182/2011 . The Commission proposals concern the authorisation of two GM soybean products, MON 87701 and 356043. Both are for food and feed uses, not cultivation. The Commission tabled the proposals following applications submitted by Monsanto Europe S.A. (MON 87701) and by Pioneer Overseas Corporation (356043) and favourable scientific assessments from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which addressed all safety concerns. EFSA concluded in both opinions that these soybeans are as safe as their non-genetically modified counterparts with respect to potential effects on human and animal health or the environment. EFSA also addressed the questions raised by Member States before delivering its scientific opinions. For more information, please visit:

GMOs: EU extends phasing out period for traces of obsolete GM oilseed rape

The European Union decided today to extend the phasing out period for traces of obsolete (previously authorised but not commercialised anywhere as such) genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape (Ms1xRf1, Ms1xRf2 and Topas 19/2). Member States endorsed a European Commission Decision to that effect at the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). The Commission based its Decision following notification of test results by stakeholders, which show that while the measures undertaken by the authorisation holder (Bayer CropScience AG) have allowed the removal of practically all the GM material from the market, minute traces (<0.1%) may still be present in food or feed chain at the end of the transitional period foreseen in the original withdrawal Decisions adopted in 20071. The presence of remaining traces after the transitional period of 5 years can be explained by the biology of oilseed rape which can remain dormant for long periods as well as by the farm practices employed to harvest the seed. The endorsed Decision provides for the extension of the current phasing out period for another five years, and requires the authorisation holder to continue to implement the measures in the original Decisions to ensure that all remaining traces are removed from the food and feed chain. For more information please visit:

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "EU Economic governance "Six-Pack" enters into force"

Memo "Digital Agenda: Commission's Open Data Strategy, Questions & answers"

Memo "Questions and answers on the proposal for a Regulation of a new Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE)"

Memo "EUROSUR: Providing authorities with tools needed to reinforce management of external borders and fight cross-border crime"

Memo "Joint Statement by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission and Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy on Serbia" - rediffusion

Statement by President Barroso at the press conference following the European Council - rediffusion

Memo "Durban conference delivers breakthrough for climate" - rediffusion

1 :

Decisions 2007/305/EC, 2007/306/EC and 2007/307/EC.