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Daily News – 14.12.2010

Midday Express of 2010-12-14

Commission Européenne - 14/12/2010

EXME 10 / 14.12

Midday Express of 2010-12-14

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

EU Commissioner for Trade to hold EU-US strategic trade talks and free trade discussions with Canada

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will travel to Canada and the United States from 14 – 17 December 2010. In Canada, he will meet his counterpart Peter Van Loan to discuss progress on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Commissioner De Gucht will then travel on to the United States where, on 17 December, he will co-chair the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), together with US Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman. The TEC will bring together a number of European Commissioners and US Government representatives to strengthen EU-US economic strategic and regulatory cooperation. Commissioner De Gucht will also meet his US counterpart, Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to discuss progress in international trade talks in the context of the Doha Development Agenda.

Stricter financial regulation can help contain future asset bubbles and reduce macroeconomic imbalances

As part of the effort to broaden macroeconomic surveillance, this Quarterly Report on the Euro Area investigates the extent to which financial supervisory and regulatory reform can help avoid future harmful credit and asset price booms, for instance in housing markets. Stricter financial supervision can help directly reduce risks to financial stability by keeping banks' leverage in check and by establishing more stringent lending standards. Further topics in this issue highlight the effect the crisis has had on cross-border banking integration in the euro area. Furthermore, the sovereign debt crisis of 2010 is shown to complicate the ongoing process of balance sheet repair. Finally, the freezing of interbank markets in 2008 has caused non-financial corporations to switch to greater bond issuance, thereby diversifying away from their traditional bank-based funding.

Commission launches consultation on review of EU investment funds rules

The European Commission has launched a consultation today on the review of the EU rules for setting up and operating investment funds. These funds are known as Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) and accounted for over €5 trillion in 2009. Following the financial crisis and the Madoff investment fraud, the consultation seeks comments on possible measures to further harmonise protection for UCITS investors. A central part of the consultation is reserved for the role of depositaries - financial institutions entrusted with the safe keeping of UCITS assets. The Commission is asking questions on how the duties of depositaries can be further clarified, including their eligibility and liability and how they can be effectively supervised in the EU. Furthermore, to curtail excessive risk-taking and to ensure that remuneration policies are consistently applied across the financial sector, it seeks comments on possible new rules on remuneration policies for UCITS managers. The replies received will feed into the Commission's work on a legislative proposal that is due to be tabled by the spring of 2011. Interested parties are invited to send their comments to the Commission by 31 January 2010. The consultation paper is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/investment/depositary_en.htm

Internal Market: Commission proposes to maintain restrictions on the sale of agricultural land in Bulgaria and Romania until the end of the transitional period

The European Commission has today proposed that Bulgaria and Romania may maintain restrictions on non-resident EU natural and legal persons acquiring agricultural land in those Member States until the end of 2014. These transitional measures were granted to Bulgaria and Romania in the 2005 EU Accession Treaty . The reasons underpinning the Commission proposal were that in both countries (i) there is no total ban on farmland acquisitions, and (ii) the socio-economic grounds that provided the basis for the transitional period remain valid. Notwithstanding this proposal, the Commission has recommended that Bulgaria and Romania consider concrete measures to better prepare for the upcoming liberalisation of their respective agricultural markets. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/capital/reports/index_en.htm .

Commission adopts € 7 million co-financing to combat organisms harmful to plants

The European Commission today adopted a co-financing Decision granting € 7 million to programmes in six Member States aiming to combat organisms harmful to plants and to prevent them from spreading further in the European Union. This is the third largest sum contributed by the EU for such purposes since the entry into force of the regime of plant health co-financing in1997. The funds are granted to Member States that requested aid: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, and Portugal. Most of the funds are devoted to the control of numerous outbreaks in Portugal of pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus), which is a microscopic worm harmful to coniferous trees. European coniferous species are highly susceptible and the pest could have devastating effects for European pine forests. The financing of the actions assists Portugal to contain pinewood nematode within the existing demarcated zone. This, in turn, helps to safeguard the territory of the other Member States and protect Union trade interests in relation to third countries. Financing also assists Spain in the actions taken against a single isolated outbreak of pine wood nematode, which was detected in November 2008 and successfully eradicated in 2008/2009. Money is also allocated for the control of two types of beetles, the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) in Germany and Italy and the Chinese longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis) in Italy. Both insects attack a wide range of woody plant species and are mainly present in Asia. Moreover, funds are made available to control the red palm weevil (Rynchophorus ferrugineus) in France and Cyprus, which attacks palm trees. For more information on the Community plant health regime, see: http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/organisms/index_en.htm

Signature de l'accord UE – Maroc dans le secteur agro-alimentaire et des produits de la pêche

Le Ministre marocain de l'agriculture Aziz Akhannouch et M. Steven Vanackere (Vice Premier Ministre et Ministre des Affaires étrangères de la Belgique assurant la Présidence tournante) au nom du Conseil de l'UE ont signé ce lundi 13 décembre 2010 l'accord sous forme d'échange de lettres entre l'Union européenne et le Royaume du Maroc relatif aux mesures de libéralisation réciproques en matière de produits agricoles, de produits agricoles transformés, de poissons et de produits de la pêche. La signature a eu lieu en marge du Conseil d'Association UE/Maroc de ce même jour. La signature de cet accord paraphés au niveau des négociateurs en décembre 2009 (voir IP/09/1952) prévoit notamment le renforcement de la position des exportateurs européens sur le marché marocain notamment dans le secteur des produits agricoles transformés, représentant un intérêt offensif important pour l'UE où une libéralisation totale est progressivement prévue dans les 10 ans à venir à l'exception des pâtes alimentaires, produit pour lequel une limitation quantitative est prévue. Dans le secteur des produits agricoles, l'accord permettra la libéralisation immédiate de 45% de la valeur des exportations du commerce de l'UE et 70 % en 10 ans. Le secteur des fruits et légumes, conserves alimentaires, des produits laitiers, des oléagineux bénéficieront pleinement d'une libéralisation totale. Le secteur de la pêche sera également libéralisé pour les produits de l'UE (91% au bout de 5 ans et dans sa totalité dans les 10 ans). Les deux parties ont également convenu d'ouvrir des négociations sur la protection des indications géographiques. En outre, l'accord prévoit des dispositions sur le respect des obligations internationales en ce qui concerne les aspects sanitaires et phytosanitaires. L'accord sera maintenant envoyé au Parlement européen pour approbation.

Council agrees 2011 catch limits for Black Sea

At the end of the first day of their meeting in Brussels, the Council of Fisheries Ministers reached political agreement on TACs and quotas for turbot and sprat fisheries in the Black Sea. Crucial to this result was an agreement supported by the Member States concerned on an allocation key derived from historical catches which fully recognises the shared nature of the sprat stock. At present, there is no regional fisheries management system for the Black Sea. Establishing an appropriate multi-lateral system to ensure sustainable fisheries in the region is a priority for the Commission over the next few years. Today's decision provides a good basis for future negotiations with the EU's international partners, in particular with Turkey and Russia. In the light of this important progress, and the commitment made by the Member States concerned to work closely with the Commission to improve monitoring and control in these fisheries, agreement was reached on a reduction of 10% in the TACs for each of the two stocks concerned. As a result, the total allowable catch for the EU in the Black Sea was set at 86.4 tons for turbot, and 11 475 tons for sprat. Following agreement of an allocation key for sprat, Bulgaria will receive 70% (8 032.5t) and Romania 30% (3 442.5t) of the TAC.Council will continue tomorrow morning, when the debate on fishing opportunities for the Atlantic and the North Sea will resume.

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of a scheme for recapitalisation of credit institutions in Greece by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (FSF)

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a six-month extension (until 30 June 2011) of a scheme for the recapitalisation of credit institutions in Greece by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (FSF). The Commission found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 3 September 2010 (see IP/10/1092), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901), and in particular the recent Communication from the Commission on the application, from 1 January 2011, of State aid rules to support measures in favour of banks in the context of the financial crisis (see IP/10/1636). In particular, the extended measures can be considered as an appropriate means for remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the EU Treaty.

Commission clears acquisition of Vue Entertainment by DHC

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by DHC Limited of sole control of Vue Entertainment Investment Limited of the United Kingdom. DHC is a private equity fund based in the Cayman Islands. Vue Entertainment provides cinema exhibition services in the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Taiwan and it is predominently active in the UK. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Guzman by Mitsui Renewable and FCC Energia

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Mitsui Renewable Energy Europe Limited ("Mitsui Renewable"), of the UK, and FCC Energia, S.A. ("FCCE"), of Spain, of joint control of Guzman Energia, S.L., ("Guzman"), of Spain. Mitsui Renewable, which is controlled by Mitsui Group, of Japan, is active in the production of solar-generated electricity. FCCE, which is controlled by Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, S.A., of Spain, is active in the supply of renewable energy services. Guzman will be active in solar thermal power generation in Spain. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

The EU supports health and capacity building for government and NGOs in Swaziland

Today, the European Commission approved projects for a total amount of € 21.3 million in favour of Swaziland. The first project will address HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, child and maternal health; while the second will help build government and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) capacity to better implement development projects. This decision reaffirms the EU commitment to helping Swaziland reverse the deteriorating trends in the health related Millennium Development Goals. The EU will contribute € 16.5 million to a joint EU/World Bank health project totalling € 32.78 million. The project will assist the Ministry of Health to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the health sector. It will help improve the Ministry's planning and management capacities and systems as well as rehabilitating front line health facilities, ensuring that they are able to provide a full range of services to Swazis. The project focuses particularly on delivering HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, child and maternal health and environmental health services. The second project totals € 4.8 million and will build the capacity and improve the coordination of the ministries and NGOs involved in implementing EU funds Swaziland, to increase the effectiveness of EU funds. Full text of the press release available on Commissioner's Piebalgs website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/headlines/press-releases/

80% of young internet users in the EU27 active on social media

In the EU27, 70% of households had access to the internet in the first quarter of 2010, compared with 49% in the first quarter of 2006. The share of households with broadband internet connections doubled, to reach 61% in 2010 compared with 30% in 2006. These data published by Eurostat, represent only a small part of the results of a survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals in the EU27 Member States, Norway, Croatia and Turkey. As well as internet use and broadband connections, the survey also covers other indicators such as e-shopping, e-government, e-security and advanced communication and content related services.

Industrial production up by 0.7% in euro area

In October 2010 compared with September 2010, seasonally adjusted industrial production rose by 0.7% in the euro area (EA16) and by 0.3% in the EU27. In September 2010 production fell by 0.7% and 0.3% respectively. In October 2010 compared with October 2009, industrial production increased by 6.9% in the euro area and by 6.7% in the EU27.These estimates are released by Eurostat.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Statement by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on the passing of Ambassador Holbrooke

Statement by Commissioner Barnier at the Treasury Select Committee, London – Rediffusion

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