EXME 11 / 15.06
Midday Express of 2011-06-15
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
Eurobarometer: Europeans generally satisfied with train services but want more access to information when travelling
A Eurobarometer survey was conducted to examine EU rail passengers’ satisfaction with domestic rail services, including trains themselves, railway stations and the rail network in their country. The Eurobarometer identified, on the one hand, good points for rail passengers who, in general, feel safe and secure when travelling by rail or find it easy to purchase their tickets; and on the other hand shortcomings such as lack of information regarding passenger rights or delays. The results will help in defining future measures to ensure medium-distance passenger transport goes primarily by rail by 2050, an objective set in the 2011 White Paper on transport recently published by the European Commission. Rail passengers were asked about the punctuality and reliability of trains in their country. 66% of all rail passengers interviewed said they were "very" or "rather" satisfied with the service in their countries. The highest satisfaction levels for were measured in Spain (89%), Ireland (89%), Portugal (91%), Latvia (93%) and Lithuania (96%). On the contrary, in some countries such as Romania (43%), France (45%), Sweden (45%), Germany (46%) and Poland (52%), rail passengers indicated to be very or rather dissatisfied with the punctuality and reliability of rail services in their countries. On ease of ticket purchasing, 79% of respondents find it easy to buy train tickets. However, only 61% of respondents in Austria and 54% in Germany find it easy to buy tickets. The Commission is currently in the process of assessing the need for further measures to remove barriers that are holding back multi-modal travel planning and ticketing. Further information: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/whatsnew2011_en.htm , http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/flash_arch_329_315_en.htm#326 and http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_326_en.pdf
Share your opinion about a European passport for venture capital funds
Today, Commission services launched a consultation on new European rules for venture capital funds. Venture capital is an important source of financing and support for innovative SMEs that encounter difficulties in accessing bank loans or listing on stock exchanges. The development of venture capital funds will improve SMEs' access to finance, and thus their opportunities to grow and expand, as outlined in the Single Market Act ( see IP/11/469). The consultation document outlines what could be the broad contours of a European passport that would be made available to venture capital funds so that they would be able to raise capital freely throughout the EU from professional investors and invest in innovative SMEs. Once the passport had been obtained (upon registration in one Member State), the fund manager could then operate throughout the EU without having to register in each Member State where it wanted to raise capital, as is often the case today. The consultation asks for stakeholders' input on this initiative. The results, together with the impact assessment, will serve as a basis for an initiative on European rules for venture capital. Interested parties are invited to send their comments by 10 August. The consultation document is available at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2011/venture_capital_en.htm
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether loans and capital injections granted to the Leipzig/Halle airport, in eastern Germany, to finance new infrastructure projects are in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission considers that Germany has not demonstrated that the public funding, which covers 100 % of the total investment costs, is justified and proportionate. The Commission is particularly concerned that the aid may be giving the airport, which has become the European hub of DHL Express, an unfair advantage vis à vis its competitors in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure
In April 2011 compared with March 2011, seasonally adjusted industrial production grew by 0.2% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.1% in the EU27. In March production remained stable in the euro area and fell by 0.2% in the EU27. In April 2011 compared with April 2010, industrial production increased by 5.2% in the euro area and by 4.7% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat .
In 2010, forest and other wooded land covered 178 million hectares in the EU27, or around 40% of its land area. The EU27 accounted for about 4% of the world's total forest area. In the EU27, three quarters of forest area was available for wood supply in 2010. In forests available for wood supply, the volume of increment (new growth) exceeded the volume of fellings by more than one third in 2010. In 2009, renewable sources of energy provided 9% of total gross inland energy consumption in the EU27. Wood and wood waste was the leading renewable source of energy, with almost half of the EU27's consumption of renewables coming from wood and wood waste. This information comes from the publication Forestry in the EU and the world, issued by Eurostat, in connection with the International Year of Forests 2011. The International Year of Forests offers an opportunity to raise public awareness of the significant environmental and economic contributions of forests to making this planet livable, to highlight challenges the world's forests are facing and what is being done to manage forests sustainably.
Member States vote on Cioloş' initiative to help fresh vegetable producers in the wake of the E-Coli crisis
Yesterday's Management Committee has voted through an emergency aid package for fresh vegetable growers worth €210 million. This scheme, initiated by EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș, will allow for the EU to pay producers for cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes, and sweet peppers that have been withdrawn from the market since May 26 as a result of the E-coli outbreak in Northern Germany. The decision foresees paying a maximum rate of 50% of the usual producer price in June. The final figure will only be confirmed on July 22 once member states confirm the volumes that will be covered. The scheme also provides Producer Organisations with some additional flexibility in compensating associated farmers for withdrawals of their vegetables from the market. The Commission Regulation will be published in the Official Journal in the coming days after which producers can apply for support. Following the identification of the origin of the contamination, EU Agriculture & Rural development Commissioner Dacian Cioloș stated: "I am relieved that the source of the contamination has now been identified, and that consumers can now enjoy fresh vegetables in full confidence. I am optimistic that consumption will pick up very quickly." On yesterday's vote, the Commissioner said: "This is an important signal for fresh vegetable growers because I was very keen to show that Europe can react quickly when it needs to. European agriculture has become more and more market-oriented in recent years. However, this crisis again highlights that the market alone is not sufficient for something as strategically important as agriculture. These are elements that we must bear in mind when it comes to fixing the rules and the budget for the CAP after 2013."
Brussels, 14 June 2011 - The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Italian dairy group Parmalat by Lactalis of France, also a dairy company. The Commission's investigation concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in Italy or any other European Economic Area (EEA) countries.
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