EXME 12 / 14.05
Midday Express of 2012-05-14
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has today issued guidelines warning that under EU law road schemes must not discriminate against foreign drivers. The aim is to assist Member States who are considering introducing new charging schemes for private cars.
The European Commission today proposed to boost innovation to deal with water related challenges by creating a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. The partnership will bring together all relevant actors across borders and sectors, such as the water sector, small and medium sized enterprises, the research community, local governments, water-using industries, and the financial sector to accelerate the development and uptake of innovative solutions to water challenges. A Strategic Implementation Plan will be developed with key stakeholders to define the priority areas for action. The EIP on Water will seek to align the activities and outcomes of existing European, national and regional activities.
In March 2012 compared with February 2012, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.3% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.4% in the EU27. In February production rose by 0.8% and 0.4% respectively. In March 2012 compared with March 2011, industrial production dropped by 2.2% in the euro area and by 1.9% in the EU27.
In 2010, London/Heathrow remained the EU’s busiest passenger airport, with 66 million passengers handled, down by 0.2% compared with 2009. Paris/Charles de Gaulle (58 mn, +0.5%) and Frankfurt/Main (53 mn, +4.1%) were the second and third busiest airports, followed by Madrid/Barajas (50 mn, +3.9%) and Amsterdam/Schiphol (45 mn, +3.7%). Nine of the top 30 airports registered decreases in the number of passengers handled in 2010, with Dublin (-10.1%) showing the largest fall, followed by London/Stansted (-7.0%), Manchester and Athinai (both -5.2%). The largest increases were observed in København/Kastrup (+9.1%), Wien/Schwechat (+8.7%), Milano/Malpensa (+7.9%) and Roma/Fiumicino (+7.6%). London/Heathrow (39 mn) handled the most extra-EU passengers, Amsterdam/Schiphol (25 mn) the most intra-EU passengers and Madrid/Barajas (19 mn) the most national passengers.
EU seeks to maintain momentum of international climate action at Bonn negotiations
The European Union will be seeking to maintain the momentum and constructive spirit of last December's Durban climate conference at the UN climate negotiations taking place from 14-25 May in Bonn, Germany. The Bonn session is the first formal round of UN climate talks to be held since Durban, which achieved a breakthrough by reaching agreement to raise the level of international climate ambition, finalise a new legal framework covering all countries by 2015, continue the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, and make operational the Green Climate Fund and other new institutions. Bonn will be the first of two scheduled meetings at official level to prepare this year's UN climate conference, which will take place in Doha, Qatar, at the end of November. The heavy agenda for Bonn includes the first session of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which has been established to draw up the new global climate treaty which will take effect from 2020, but also to identify ways to achieve more ambitious emission reductions before 2020 in order to keep within reach the goal of holding global warming below 2°C. The EU will be pressing for agreement in Bonn on the Durban Platform's work programme up to 2015 as well as on a specific workplan for increasing climate ambition before 2020. Another EU priority is to make good progress towards agreement on the outstanding details of Kyoto's second commitment period starting next year, such as the length of the period and key rules that will govern it, so that these can be finalised in Doha. The working group on long-term cooperative action must also conclude its work this year, as agreed in Durban, so that sufficient resources can be dedicated to the negotiations on the new global treaty. The Danish EU Presidency and the European Commission will negotiate on behalf of the EU and its Member States in Bonn. Press briefings by the EU delegation are scheduled on 14 and 25 May at 1400 CEST and will be webcast live and on demand at www.unfccc.int .
Challenges and opportunities of maritime and coastal tourism: public consultation launched today
Tourism is undoubtedly an economic backbone of coastal regions. At present about 2.36 million people are employed in the coastal tourism sector, representing 1.1% total EU employment. Cruise tourism alone represents a distinct segment generating direct turnover of € 14.5 billion and nearly 150,000 jobs. At the same time, this sector faces specific challenges, such as seasonality (dependency on the sun and beach tourism), lack of skilled professionals and of innovation culture and growing external competition. What actions can be envisaged to reap the full potential of a sustainable and smart coastal and maritime tourism? These actions could be derived from answers to the following questions: 1. How to render maritime and coastal tourism more competitive? 2. How to address environmental implications of tourism and its socio-cultural aspects? 3. How to stimulate tourists from third countries to visit Europe and encouraging EU nationals to discover coastal regions? At the joint initiative of Vice-president Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, a public consultation is launched today. The results will feed into a comprehensive overview of the recommendations and initiatives which could be sponsored and promoted at European level. All stakeholders are invited to submit their comments and suggestions by 9 July 2012. Challenges and Opportunities for Maritime and Coastal Tourism in the EU– Public consultation: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/partners/consultations/tourism/index_en.htm
EU and US agree to collaborate on toy safety
Vice President Tajani has signed in Washington, DC., a statement to further strengthen the collaboration between the European Commission and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in order to enhance toy safety in the EU and the US. Cooperation between DG ENTR and the CPSC services goes back quite some time, but significantly intensified following the major toy and other products' recalls in the summer of 2007. The idea of the statement to strengthen cooperation further to engage in regulatory cooperation aiming at more harmonised regulatory solutions. The idea is to achieve an even higher level of safety, while removing unnecessary differences in regulations that create cost for industry to the detriment of competitiveness. Further transatlantic cooperation on toys may serve as model/best practice for regulatory cooperation also in other areas.
Commission clears acquisition of RBC Dexia Investor by Royal Bank of Canada.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of RBC Dexia Investor Services Limited, thus far a joint venture company between Royal Bank of Canada and Dexia SA active in global custody, fund and pension administration services, by the Royal Bank of Canada, a Canadian financial services group. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Today, the Commission has approved ING's restructuring aid as compatible with the internal market. The approval is based on a restructuring plan submitted in 2009. The Commission needed to adopt this new decision in order to provide legal clarity following the partial annulment by the General Court of its original decision of November 2009. Since that time, the Dutch State and ING also notified to the Commission amendments to the plan. Today the Commission has opened an in-depth investigation concerning these changes. Both decisions provide a framework for taking forward the outstanding issues in this case with a view to adopting a final decision on the restructuring of ING. In parallel, the Commission has appealed the General Court's judgement before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Skånemejerier AB, a subsidiary of the Swedish cooperative Skånemejerier ek. För by Lactalis, both active in the dairy sector. The Commission's investigation concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, because it will not significantly alter the market structure.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the electrical components and connectors manufacturer Thomas & Betts Corporation of the US by ABB Ltd of Switzerland. ABB is active in the power and automation technology sector. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the overlaps between the parties' activities are limited and that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of other strong competitors. Customers will therefore still have a number of alternative suppliers in the markets concerned.
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