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Daily News – 15.12.2011

Midday Express of 2011-12-15

European Commission - 15/12/2011

EXME 11 / 15.12

Midday Express of 2011-12-15

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

New analysis shows employment and social policies key to Europe’s job-rich recovery

The first annual review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) published today by the European Commission underlines that a mix of employment and social policies is necessary to ensure a long-term job-rich recovery in the current climate of fiscal consolidation and bleak economic outlook. Its findings show how the economic crisis has aggravated Europe’s structural weaknesses like income inequality and the disappearance of medium-paid jobs, especially in manufacturing and construction. Poverty remains high with 115 million Europeans (23% of the EU population) at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2010. The review also analyses labour mobility within Europe, reviews active ageing policies and draws attention to the problem of in-work poverty.

Commission proposes measures to tackle cross-border inheritance tax problems

EU citizens that inherit foreign property are frequently faced with a tax bill from more than one Member State. In fact, in extreme cases the total value of a cross-border inherited asset might even have to be paid in tax, because several Member States may claim taxing rights on the same inheritance or tax foreign inheritances more heavily than local inheritances. Citizens may be forced to sell inherited assets, just to cover the taxes, and small businesses may face transfer difficulties on the death of their owners. To tackle these problems, the Commission today adopted a comprehensive package on inheritance taxation. Through a Communication, Recommendation and Working Paper, the Commission analyses the problems and presents solutions related to cross-border inheritance tax in the EU.

Energy Roadmap 2050: a secure, competitive and low-carbon energy sector is possible

To achieve the goal of cutting emissions by over 80% by 2050, Europe's energy production will have to be almost carbon-free. How to achieve this without disrupting energy supplies and competitiveness is the question answered by the Energy Roadmap 2050 the Commission is presenting today. Based on the analysis of a set of scenarios, the document describes the consequences of a carbon free energy system and the policy framework needed. This should allow member states to make the required energy choices and create a stable business climate for private investment, especially until 2030.

Environment: Commission launches new initiative to help cutting-edge green technologies reach the market

The European Commission is launching a new instrument to help companies that are developing innovative environmental technologies. The Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) pilot programme will provide independent verification of the performance of new environmental technologies. This will help manufacturers prove the reliability of performance claims, and help technology purchasers identify innovations that suit their needs.

Eco-innovation Action Plan Launched: helping business to deliver green growth and environmental benefits.

Eco-innovation is crucial to delivering the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The new Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) will boost innovation that reduces pressure on the environment, and bridge the gap between innovation and the market. Eco-friendly technologies are good for business and help create new jobs, so eco-innovation is crucial to the economic competitiveness of Europe.

Environment: Commission hands over European Green Capital 2012 title to Vitoria-Gasteiz

Brussels, 15 December 2011 – The Commission handed over the title of European Green Capital from Hamburg to Vitoria-Gasteiz today. EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potočnik; President of the Committee of the Regions, Mercedes Bresso; State Secretary for Environment, Ministry for Urban Development and Environment, Holger Lange; and Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Javier Maroto Aranzabal, all took part in the ceremony which was held in the European Parliament during the plenary session of the Committee of the Regions.

Digital Agenda: Commission consults on massive expansion of LED lighting in Europe

The European Commission today adopted a Green Paper and launched a public consultation on the future of LED-based lighting. LED lighting is one of the most energy-efficient and versatile forms of lighting - saving up to 70% energy and money compared to other lighting technologies. Faster LED deployment will ensure the success of Europe's lighting industry and help reduce energy use from lighting by 20% by 2020. LED lighting faces a number of challenges in the market: high purchase prices because it is a more sophisticated technology compared to the alternatives, lack of familiarity among potential users and a lack of common standards. To this end a consultation will run until 29 February 2012 to collect feedback on the Commission's ideas.

EU welcomes 3 new members to the World Trade Organisation

The EU welcomes the accession of Montenegro, Russia and Samoa to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week, bringing the total number of Members to 157. The EU is also expected to formally conclude its bilateral negotiations with the Lao People's Democratic Republic on its accession to the WTO on 16 December.

EU helps to further stabilise Libya through support for education, administration and civil society

The European Commission has today adopted an assistance package for Libya to support the stabilisation and transition process of the country. The programme will strengthen civil society and public administration by providing training for experts and expertise through twinning with EU and Arab partners. It will also improve education in the country by supporting teacher training and reviewing the way that textbooks deal with issues of gender or minority discrimination, for example.

European Commission signs agreement with Croatia to support training of judges and prosecutors

Today, the European Commission signed an agreement with Croatia to help train the country's judiciary ahead of the country’s accession to the EU in July 2013. Under the agreement signed by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and Croatian Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjakovic, Croatia will be able to participate in EU programmes to support training for judges, lawyers and other legal practitioners. The agreement follows Croatia’s signature of an accession treaty with the European Union on 9 December ( MEMO/11/883), paving way for the country to become the EU's 28th Member State.

November 2011 - Euro area annual inflation stable at 3.0% - EU stable at 3.4%

Euro area annual inflation was 3.0% in November 2011, unchanged compared with October. A year earlier the rate was 1.9%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in November 2011. EU3annual inflation was 3.4% in November 2011, unchanged compared with October. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.2% in November 2011.

First estimate for the third quarter of 2011 - Employment down by 0.1% in euro area and EU27 - +0.2% and -0.1% respectively compared with the third quarter of 2010

The number of persons employed in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 decreased by 0.1% in the third quarter of 2011 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the second quarter of 2011, employment increased by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.1% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted. The largest falls in employment were recorded in real estate activities (-1.2% in the euro area and -0.8% in the EU27) and construction (-1.2% and -0.4% respectively), while the only rises were registered in administration and other public services (+0.1% in both zones) and industry (+0.1% in the euro area and 0.0% in the EU27). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment grew by 0.2% in the euro area, but fell by 0.1% in the EU27 in the third quarter of 2011. Eurostat estimates that, in the third quarter of 2011, 222.9 million men and women were employed in the EU27, of which 146.9 million were in the euro area. These figures are seasonally adjusted. These quarterly data on employment provide a picture of labour input consistent with the output and income measure of national accounts.

Commission clears creation of a JV between Evonik and Treibacher

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture between Evonik Industries AG of Germany and Treibacher Industrie AG of Austria. The JV will be active in the production and sale of persalts, specifically sodium perborate and sodium percarbonate, chemicals mainly used in synthetic detergents and washing powders. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears change of the activities of Evonik Immobilien and THS in Herkules Projektgemeinschaft

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the enlargement of the scope of activities of the non full-function joint venture Herkules Projektgemeinschaft by its parent companies Evonik Immobilien GmbH and THS GmbH, both providers of real estate management services in Germany. The full-function joint venture Herkules Projektgemeinschaft will operate actively on the market for rental of residential real estate properties in Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of Pubbles by German companies DPV, DBH and Reinhard Mohn

The Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control over Pubbles by DBH Buch Handels, DPV Deutscher Pressevertrieb and Reinhard Mohn, all of Germany. Pubbles, currently a joint venture of DPV and RM which are both controlled by Bertelsmann AG, is a wholesale and retail platform for digital media products (electronic books, newspapers and magazines). The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of Northern Rock by Virgin Money Holdings

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Virgin Money Holdings of UK, of Northern Rock. Virigin Money Holdings is a joint venture between the Virgin Group and the WL Ross Group. Northern Rock is a UK retail bank which was nationalized in the wake of the banking crisis. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission approves reintroduction of Italian guarantee scheme for credit institutions

The European Commission has approved until 30 June 2012 the reintroduction of a scheme providing state guarantees to credit institutions in Italy, initially approved in November 2008 (IP/08/1706) and extended on 16 June 2009 (IP/09/929). The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (IP/08/1495) as revised in its Communication of 1 December 2011 (IP/11/1488). The extended measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission therefore concluded that the guarantees are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), that allows granting aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state.

Commission approves proposed acquisition of Carlo Colombo by Glencore

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control by Glencore International of Jersey over Carlo Colombo of Italy.

Glencore is active as producer and marketer of commodities and raw materials. Carlo Colombo is active as producer of copper rods and semi-finished copper products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Rediffusion

EU-Russia summit to improve citizen's mobility

The 28th EU–Russia Summit will take place in Brussels on 15 December. The European Union will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The delegation of Russia will be led by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Belgian health company Omega Pharma by private equity fund manager Waterland and Belgian Alychlo

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Omega Pharma NV, a Belgian provider of Over-the-Counter (OTC) health care products, by the Belgian holding company Alychlo NV and a fund controlled by Waterland Private Equity Investment B.V.

EP supports ban of phosphates in consumer detergents

The European Commission welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of the proposal to ban the use of phosphates and to limit the content of other phosphorous containing compounds in consumer laundry detergents as of 30 June 2013. Similar restrictions will apply to automatic dishwasher detergents for consumers as of 1 January 2017. When excessively discharged into water, phosphates cause algae to grow at the expense of other aquatic life.

L’UE approuve l’ouverture de négociations commerciales avec l’Égypte, la Jordanie, le Maroc et la Tunisie

La Commission européenne salue la décision prise aujourd’hui par le Conseil des affaires étrangères de l’Union européenne en vue d’autoriser l’ouverture de négociations commerciales avec l’Égypte, la Jordanie, le Maroc et la Tunisie, dès finalisation du processus préparatoire nécessaire. Cette décision mandate la Commission européenne pour engager des négociations visant à établir des zones de libre-échange approfondies et complètes (DCFTA). À la différence des relations commerciales actuelles entre l’UE et ces pays, les DCFTA iront au-delà de la simple suppression des droits de douane, l’objectif étant de prendre en compte toutes les questions réglementaires en rapport avec le commerce, telles que la protection des investissements et les marchés publics.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "First annual review of Employment and Social Developments in Europe"

Memo "Tackling EU cross-border inheritance tax obstacles– Frequently Asked Questions"

Memo "The Commission's Energy Roadmap 2050"

Memo "EU-Russia Summit (Brussels, 15 December 2011)" - rediffusion

Statement by President Barroso on the conclusion of the Polish Presidency - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Potočnik: "The city where green is capital"

Speech by Commissioner Potočnik: "EU objectives for Rio+20"

Opening speech by Commissioner Piebalgs at the 2011 European Development Days in Warsaw, Poland

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