EXME08 / 15.12
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
15 / 12 / 08
The European Commission has made four payments to Italy from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The total of € 35.16 million will help almost 6 000 workers in the textile sector back into employment. These workers were made redundant in mainly small businesses located in Sardinia, Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany. The redundancies follow the general shift of clothing and accessories production in the European Union towards lower-cost non-EU countries. The payment follows approval by the Budgetary Authority (the European Parliament and the Council) on 19 November.
People can now reach emergency services from anywhere in the EU, simply by dialling 112, the single European emergency number. Now that 112 can be called from any phone in Bulgaria, it has achieved complete availability just before the Christmas period when thousands of people travel between EU Member States to visit family, hit the slopes or look for winter sun. It also crowns the combined efforts of the European Commission and EU Member States to make 112 fully available everywhere so that Europeans will always have a lifeline in the EU.
Today representatives of employers and workers at EU-level presented a report on how they have implemented their framework agreement on work-related stress. Stress is a serious work- related health problem and considered the primary cause of lost working days in Europe. The objective of the agreement is for workers and employers to work together at better identifying, preventing and managing stress.
The European Commission has updated the lists of Contracting Authorities and utilities that have to follow EU public procurement rules. The lists will give citizens and businesses the opportunity to identify which public authorities in the EU have to submit their public contracts to EU-wide tender procedures. As well as improving accountability and transparency in this area, the updated lists are intended to offer more opportunities for business to participate in public contracts. Total public procurement in the EU – i.e. the purchases of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities - is estimated at about 17% of the Union’s GDP or €1900 billion in 2006. EU public procurement rules apply to purchases by public authorities and utilities falling above certain thresholds.
The European Commission and the Vietnamese authorities are jointly organising an ASEM Seminar "Preserving and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions: sharing Asian and European experiences", which takes place in Hanoi, Vietnam on 15-16 December 2008. The aim of this event is to gather reflections on how to preserve and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, while sharing the rich Asian and European experiences in this field.
Chaque année, dans l’Union européenne (UE), de 8 % à 12 % des patients hospitalisés subissent un préjudice causé par les soins de santé qui leur sont dispensés, notamment par des infections associées aux soins de santé (IAS). Ce préjudice est, dans une large mesure, évitable. La Commission va adopter aujourd’hui une communication et une proposition de recommandation du Conseil détaillant les actions que les États membres peuvent engager – seuls, collectivement ou de concert avec la Commission – afin d’améliorer la sécurité des patients.
The European Commission adopted a green paper on the EU workforce for health. This marks the beginning of a consultation period which aims to identify common responses to the many challenges facing the health workforce in Europe. In an ageing Europe, with growing healthcare costs and rising expectations from both citizens and patients, a high quality health workforce is crucial for successful health systems. The health workforce plays an important role in the EU economy accounting for about 10% of all jobs. In addition, 70% of EU healthcare budgets are allocated to salaries and employment related issues.
According to the first demographic estimates for 2008, published by Eurostat, the EU27 will have a population of 499.7 million on 1 January 2009. The population of the new euro area, including Slovakia, will be 328.6 million on 1 January 2009. In the EU27 the population grew by 4.4 per 1000 inhabitants in 2008, due to natural population growth of +1.1‰ and net migration of +3.3‰. In total, the EU27 population is estimated to have increased by 2.2 million in 2008.
The first group of winners of the European Prize for Literature, which will be awarded for the first time in 2009, will come from 12 countries: Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden. Over the next three years, each of the 34 countries participating in the EU's Culture Programme, the EU's flagship funding programme in the area of culture, will have their respective winner. The new European Prize for Literature is financed through the EU's Culture Programme, and aims to award emerging talents in the field of contemporary literature (fiction). The selection of the countries, and later of the winners, is done by a Consortium composed of the European Booksellers Federation (EBF), the European Writers' Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP). This Consortium was appointed by the European Commission to organise the prize following an open Call for Proposals. Press release announcing the results of the Call for Proposals: http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1856&type=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en The prize: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-programmes-and-actions/doc627_en.htm The Culture programme: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/index_en.htm
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Diners Club Spain (DCS) of Spain by Banco Santander, SA (Santander) of Spain and Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH (LASG) of Germany, controlled by the Lufthansa Group. Santander is active in the banking and financial sectors, operating mainly in Spain, the UK and some other European countries, as well as in Latin America. LASG is active in the sector of payment cards for business related expenses. DCS operates payment cards and provides related services and operations, mainly in Spain. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of CAN Soluciones de Salud, S.A.U. (CAN Salud) of Spain by Aegon Spanje of Spain and Caja de Ahorros y del Monte de Piedad de Navarra, SA (Caja Navarra), also of Spain. Aegon Spanje produces and distributes insurance and pension products in Spain. Caja Navarra carries out credit and finance operations in Spain. CAN Salud sells non-life insurance products in Spain. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Commission welcomes the adoption of a proposal for a new framework for the regulation of reinsurance in the United States by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) (See http://www.naic.org/Releases/2008_docs/reinsurance_reform.htm). These proposals represent a significant step forward after many years of discussion. In particular, the new framework once implemented should result in modifications to the 100 percent collateral requirements currently applied to foreign reinsurers, which it is estimated cost more than $500 million a year. The European Commission believes it is now vital that all parties work to ensure that these proposals are implemented quickly and consistently throughout the United States in order to level up the playing field between domestic and foreign reinsurers, increase capacity in the US reinsurance market and lower costs for consumers and businesses purchasing insurance in the United States.
At the UN climate change conference in Poznań, Poland, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas endorsed a joint ministerial declaration launched today by like-minded countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. The statement commits a number of developed and key tropical developing countries to take early action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – a process known as REDD – in the developing world.
The European Commission has approved, under EC Treaty state aid rules, modifications to the German rescue package for financial institutions, initially approved by the Commission on 27 October 2008 (see IP/08/1589). The amendments concern mainly the remuneration of recapitalisation measures, in line with the Commission's Communication on recapitalisation (see IP/08/1901). Although basic remuneration rates may, in certain cases, be below the rates foreseen in the initial package, the price for the state participation increases in proportion to its duration, so as to incite beneficiaries to pay back the state support as soon as market conditions permit it. This will ensure the proportionality of the amended measures and contribute to the adequacy of the whole scheme to remedy a serious disturbance in the German economy. The Commission therefore concluded that the German rescue package, as amended, was compatible with Article 87.3.b of the EC Treaty.
The European Commission welcomes the results of the UN climate change conference which ended today in Poznań, Poland. The conference kept on track the international process to conclude a new global climate agreement at the end of next year in Copenhagen. It took a series of decisions including work programmes for 2009 which will accelerate the negotiations. Parties also reached a solution to make operational the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund for developing countries. The climate and energy package agreed at the Brussels summit on Friday attracted considerable attention at the conference.
The European Commission is pleased that the conclusions of the Council, which were also presented to Heads of State and Government at the European Council in 11 and 12 December, (ref: 16503/1/08) recognise the progress made by the Commission in implementing the EU Integrated Maritime Policy throughout this year, notably on key issues such as governance, surveillance, and research. The Council equally recognised the work done so far on maritime spatial planning and offshore renewable energy, as well as the work towards developing specific strategies for different maritime basins, i.e. for the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. The Council acknowledged the work of Member States towards implementation of this new EU policy and called for reinforcement of synergies, coherence and the added value of sectoral action by integrating it into a comprehensive vision for seas and coastal areas. The Council emphasised that it is in the interest of the Member States to continue their cooperation on all sea-related policies. The Commission also welcomes that the Council encouraged the forthcoming presidencies to continue discussions on the promotion of an integrated maritime policy between the Commission and Member States with the help of their High-Level Focal Points. More specifically, the Council invited the Member States to promote best practices in maritime governance and urged them to step up cooperation, coherence, coordination and interoperability in the area of maritime surveillance. It complimented the commitment of the Commission and the European agencies to improve Europe's maritime surveillance capabilities and invited the agencies to pursue their cooperation in this field. On research, the Council stressed the importance of developing knowledge and observation networks in sea-related domains, and requested the Member States to continue to cooperate in the research field. More information: The Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU Action Plan: http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/subpage_mpa_en.html