EXME 11 / 14.10
Midday Express of 2011-10-14
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The European Commission has today approved an application from Portugal for assistance from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The application concerns 726 workers made redundant by three companies operating in the car sector in the regions Norte and Centro, in Portugal. The EGF funding of € 1.5 million requested by the Portuguese authorities will help the redundant workers back into employment. The Commission is now making a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council to make the necessary funding available.
The competition authorities of the European Union and of the United States have agreed to further strengthen cooperation on mergers investigated in both jurisdictions, as they celebrate 20 years of successful cooperation in the area of competition policy. The announcement follows the annual top-level meeting between the European Commission and the US Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. EMBARGO: 14:30 CET
A total of € 214 million of EU agricultural policy funds unduly spent by Member States is being claimed back by the European Commission today under the so-called clearance of accounts procedure. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.
On 18 October 2011, the European Commission will organise a conference on the 'socio-economic dimensions of GMO cultivation'. This conference will take place in Brussels under the chairmanship of EU Commissioner John Dalli. EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli stated on several occasions to be committed to building an active and transparent dialogue with each party interested with GMOs.
The European Commission presented today its Communication on "Industrial policy: Reinforcing competitiveness", which looks specifically at the industrial competitiveness performance of the Member States. The EU economic recovery has been relatively slow and remains fragile. This is reflected in the worsening sentiment across the European economy. Moreover, there are clear downside risks stemming from financial markets, rising energy and raw materials prices, and the need for budgetary consolidation. However, EU industry is in good shape and has the potential to push the European economy back to growth.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of US-based pharmaceutical company Cephalon by the generic pharmaceutical company Teva of Israel. The decision is conditional upon the divestment of Cephalon's generic version of its "Provigil" drug. Provigil is indicated for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. Teva has also developed a generic version of the drug. In light of the commitments, the Commission concluded that the transaction does not raise competition concerns.
The first estimate for euro area (EA17) trade with the rest of the world in August 2011 gave a 3.4 bn euro deficit, compared with -6.3 bn euro in August 2010. The July 20112 balance was +2.5 bn, compared with +4.6 bn in July 2010. In August 2011 compared with July 2011, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 4.7% and imports by 2.7%. The first estimate for the August 2011 extra-EU27 trade balance was a 17.8 bn euro deficit, compared with ‑19.2 bn in August 2010. In July 2011 the balance was -9.0 bn, compared with -7.5 bn in July 2010. In August 2011 compared with July 2011, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 2.9% and imports by 3.2%. These data are released by Eurostat.
Euro area annual inflation was 3.0% in September 2011, up from 2.5% in August. A year earlier the rate was 1.9%. Monthly inflation was 0.8% in September 2011.EU annual inflation was 3.3% in September 2011, up from 2.9% in August. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.6% in September 2011.These figures come from Eurostat. In September 2011, the lowest annual rates were observed in Ireland (1.3%), Sweden (1.5%) and the Czech Republic (2.1%), and the highest in Estonia (5.4%) and Lithuania (4.7%). Compared with August 2011, annual inflation fell in seven Member States, remained stable in five and rose in fourteen. The lowest 12-month averages up to September 2011 were registered in Ireland (0.6%), Sweden (1.6%), the Czech Republic and Slovenia (both 1.9%), and the highest in Romania (6.9%) and Estonia (5.2%).
Customs: EU and Moldova endorse customs cooperation
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit, has today endorsed a strategic framework for better customs cooperation with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat. This initiative towards a common approach on customs cooperation will benefit EU-Moldova trade relations and improve the protection of citizens against fraud. The strategic framework builds on three shared priorities for the period covering 2011 to 2014. First, customs are an important link in the supply chain between Moldova and EU. The focus lies therefore on improving cooperation and risk management at borders and speeding up customs procedures to secure and facilitate trade. Second, illegal trade on EU's Eastern border is a major challenge. The aim is therefore to effectively detect and decrease illegal trade on the Moldovan border. Better risk assessment, more exchange of information and a dialogue on the fight against fraud are crucial to optimise customs controls in this respect. Third, stepping up investment in customs modernisation is key to strengthen the customs capacity on the Moldovan border. This could for instance include the development of border infrastructure on both sides of the border. The endorsement of the Strategic Framework for EU-Moldova customs cooperation will serve as a basis for a more structured approach in customs relations and will help to address effectively growing challenges and opportunities on both sides.
ERC helps innovative projects to bring good ideas to market
The European Research Council (ERC) has today announced the first results of its new funding initiative, the “Proof of Concept”. These "top up" grants, worth up to €150,000 each, are designed to help ERC-funded "blue sky" research maximize value. In total, 30 top researchers already receiving ERC grants will be able to bridge the gap between their research and the earliest stages of a marketable innovation. The funding can cover activities related to intellectual property rights, technical validation, market research or investigation of commercial and business opportunities. The projects selected cover a wide range of topics. They include research on needle-free injections of vaccines, safer mobile communications, responses to consumers' concerns on health and food safety, as well as on controlling electronic devices like wheel chairs simply by sniffing. Using a very limited part of the whole ERC budget, the initiative is designed to unleash considerable innovation potential. Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said: "In this time of economic crisis, investing in excellence and innovation in Europe is vital. This targeted backing can help high potential ERC projects capture the maximum value from frontier research. We need to stimulate innovation and bring more ideas to market." The success rate is around 40%. A total of 78 proposals were submitted in June to the first deadline of this call. The second deadline is on 8 November 2011. For more information, please click here .
Neelie Kroes underlines key role of BEREC
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) has a crucial role to play in improving the consistency and transparency of regulatory action in telecoms markets, and the dissemination of best practices across Member States. The opening of BEREC's office in Riga is a prerequisite for it to carry out its challenging role effectively, independently, and successfully said European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes today. Explaining that the integration of Europe's telecoms markets started more than ten years ago, Kroes emphasised that "now it is time to make rules a reality". She welcomed BEREC's role and input on policy challenges such as roaming, net neutrality, and delivering superfast broadband. Kroes stressed the goals of "fostering investment within a true Single Market and getting the best deal for consumers" as well as "promoting competition within and across borders and reducing discrimination against newcomers accessing the market". She underlined that, while the challenges ahead are considerable, expectations for BEREC are high. SPEECH/11/666
EU agricultural commodity outlook 2011/2012 published
Following the announcement of Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş at the G-20 agricultural ministers meeting in June 2011, the Commission has now published for the first time a short term outlook for main agricultural commodity markets. In the EU, cereals balance is expected to remain relatively tight with a 2011 production of 275 million tonnes. Oilseeds production is expected to decrease by 2.2% in 2011. Meat production, boosted by good exports in 2010, is expected to continue the trend in 2011 and then decrease slightly in 2012. Total EU milk production is forecast to reach almost 151 million tonnes in 2011 and remain similar in 2012. The short term outlook for arable crop, meat and dairy markets in the EU includes information and data available until 15 September 2011. The report is based on analyses of market experts within the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission and it will be published three times a year. Updates of the cereals balance sheet will be published monthly on Europa web site and for the first time end of October. The full report is available in the Europa website: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/analysis/markets/index_en.htm Monthly updates of the Cereal Balance Sheet table will be available in the Europa website: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/crops/index_en.htm
Commissioner Hedegaard travelling to Ethiopia and South-Africa
Next week European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will travel to Africa to prepare the international climate negotiations, which will take place in Durban in the first two weeks of December. From Monday to Wednesday, Commissioner Hedegaard will be in Ethiopia, where she will take part in a high-level panel at the "First Climate Change and Development in Africa" conference in Addis Ababa. In the sidelines of the conference the Commissioner will also meet with ministers from some African countries; and visit some climate-related projects funded by the EU. Consecutively, Commissioner Hedegaard will go to Cape Town, South-Africa, to attend the pre-COP (Conference of the Parties) meeting, where ministers will have a last round of discussions on outstanding crunch issues for a successful and balanced outcome in Durban
Commissioner Damanaki in Norway for meetings with national authorities and the fishing industry
Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will meet Norvegian ministers and stakeholders during a two day visit to Norway starting Monday 17 October. In Oslo, the Commissioner meets Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim to discuss the approach of integrated maritime management plans, and she will discuss Arctic issues with Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, accompanied by Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Lisbeth Berg-Hansen. Commissioner Damanaki then travels to Bergen for a series of meetings dedicated chiefly to fisheries issues. She will first meet the representatives of the Norwegian Coast Guard, and then visit the Directorate of Fisheries, to discuss the Norwegian seafood industry, sustainable fisheries management, sustainable aquaculture, discards policy and control issues. Afterwards, Ms Damanaki will address the issues related to scientific advice at the Institute for Marine Research, and will close the day with a meeting at the Pelagic Sales Organisation, to discuss, inter alia, the organisation's role in controlling fisheries through catch certificates. On 18 October, Commissioner Damanaki will meet with Minister Berg-Hansen and visit the fishery community of Austevoll to learn about best practices in sustainable aquaculture and coastal planning. head of her visit, Commissioner Damanaki said: "Norway is our key partner. In the domain of fisheries, the EU has clearly opted for a science-based approach, and we look forward to reinforcing our bilateral cooperation. The EU Common Fisheries Policy is going through a radical change and we will be able to find common ground with Norway on a very large number of issues. We also want to further pursue our Arctic dialogue with Norway, and develop a solid cooperation agenda in that regard".
Towards clearer property rights for international couples
As more and more Europeans move around the EU for work, study or leisure, they increasingly have to deal with the legal complications of having property in another EU country. To make life easier for the estimated 16 million international couples in the EU, the European Commission has put forward proposals to bring more legal clarity for couples dealing with joint property. The Commission's proposals will be the focus of discussions during a conference in Brussels on 17 October 2011, organised jointly with the Notaries of Europe (CNUE), where the keynote speaker will be Vice-President Viviane Reding. Policy-makers, academics and legal practitioners will discuss questions such as: Which law applies? Who decides? In cases of disputes – who is the competent authority? What are the differences between marriage and registered partnerships? And how will citizens be informed of their rights? The event will also see the launch of a new tool to help EU citizens find a notary who speaks their language, anywhere in Europe. The www.notaries-directory.eu website provides a comprehensive online directory of notaries in the EU, so that a British person buying a property in the Czech Republic can, for example, locate an English speaking notary in Prague. The directory is the brainchild of the Notaries of Europe and received support from the European Commission. Event page
Stepping up the fight against poverty in Europe
As part of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the European Commission, together with the Polish Presidency, is bringing together around 400 policy-makers, NGOs and experts in Krakow, Poland to look at the progress made on the EU's target to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. The First Annual Convention of the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion taking place on 17-18 October will put forward proposals for action in areas like family and children policies, youth employment, as well as presenting ideas on how social innovation can support active inclusion policies and how to the social economy can be a source of jobs. The Convention's participants will also visits several concrete social inclusion projects focusing mostly on supporting disadvantaged groups and including projects from the European Social Fund . Commissioner Laszlo Andor will take part in the two days of discussions and will visit two social projects on October 18th followed by a short press conference at the social enterprise U Pana Cogito with the Polish Labour Minister, Ms. Jolanta Fedak. The ideas and results of the two-day Convention will be presented to employment and social affairs ministers at their meeting on 1st December in Brussels. In 2010, the Heads of States and Government committed to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. To reach this overall target, Member State's have committed to a specific national target in this field. The European Commission has proposed several actions through the flagship initiative Platform against poverty and social exclusion . The EU also supports Member States financially in their fight against poverty and social exclusion, through the European Social Fund , the PROGRESS Programme and the Microfinance Facility . Images and photos from the conference and site visits will be available on Eurobe by Satellite (EbS)
Conference of the Multiannual Financial Framework
On 20-21 October, the Commission together with the Polish Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament is organising a conference on the future Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014 to 2020 in Brussels. The program of the Conference consists of two plenary sessions and three parallel working sessions. The plenary sessions, are open to media and will be web streamed on EbS. The conference brings together the EU institutions with national governments and parliaments. Journalists can register on the spot for participation in the opening and closing plenary sessions on Thursday and Friday morning respectively. Those accredited with the European Commission are requested to show their accreditation. Other journalists are requested to present their national press accreditation or mission letter of their editor-in-chief.
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