EXME 11 / 16.06
Midday Express of 2011-06-16
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The Commission has requested Greece and Belgium to notify within the next two months the measures they are taking to implement important rules concerning capital adequacy for banks and investment firms as laid down in the Second Capital Requirements Directives (known as CRD II). The aims of the Directives are to reinforce the stability of the financial system, reduce banks' risk exposure and improve the supervision of banks that operate in more than one EU country. The deadline for implementing these rules was 31 October 2010. The Commission's request takes the form of a "reasoned opinion". If the national authorities do not notify the necessary implementing measures within two months, the Commission may refer the Member States concerned to the Court of Justice.
La Commission européenne a demandé aujourd'hui à la Bulgarie de veiller au plein respect des règles de l'UE relatives aux marchés publics, en ce qui concerne un marché de sécurité et gardiennage lancé par l'Elektroenergien Sistemen Operator EAD ("ESO EAD", une filiale de la compagnie nationale d'electricité qui gère les réseaux). Dans la procédure d'attribution du contrat en question, deux des critères de sélection étaient de nature à donner un avantage injustifié aux prestataires de services bulgares ou basés en Bulgarie ou ceux détenant un certificat de sécurité au travail, émis par un seul Etat Membre de l'Union. Ceci constitue une infraction aux principes fondamentaux du droit européen des marchés publics, notamment de non-discrimination. La demande adressée par la Commission à la Bulgarie revêt la forme d’un avis motivé. En l’absence de réponse satisfaisante de la part de la Bulgarie dans un délai de deux mois, la Commission pourra saisir la Cour de justice.
The Commission has today decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully implement the Occupational Pensions Directive into national law. This directive, which allows pension funds to manage occupational pension schemes for companies which are established in another Member State and allows a pan-European company to have only one pension fund for all its subsidiaries across Europe provides many benefits both for employers and employees. Furthermore, the Commission has also sent Estonia a reasoned opinion for not fully and completely implementing the Directive into national law. If Estonia fails to take satisfactory measures within two months, the Commission may decide to also refer Estonia to the EU Court of Justice.
The Commission has requested that Germany change current rules and practices (Bauregellisten) concerning construction products, which today impose additional requirements for products covered by European harmonised standards, and bearing the CE marking. Such additional requirements are in breach of EU Single Market rules.
The Commission's request takes the form of an additional reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures and aims at facilitating the free trade of construction products throughout the EU's Single Market. The German authorities often demand ex-ante approval and further additional certifications, such as the German Ü mark (“Ü-Zeichen”), for construction products, which have already proven to satisfy all applicable requirements via the CE marking. As a result, construction products with the CE marking from other Member States are often denied access to the German market. In addition, the German legislation in question is not updated frequently enough to provide manufacturers with sufficient legal certainty in relation to the applicable requirements for construction products.
The European Commission has today decided to refer The Netherlands to the EU's Court of Justice for failing to properly implement EU VAT rules for travel agents. The VAT Directive 2006/112/EC contains special rules (the so-called "special margin scheme") for travel agents when they sell travel packages to travellers. Given the fact that elements of the packages may be located in different countries and therefore may be subject to different VAT rules, the VAT Directive provides for a simplified application of VAT for travel agents. However, the scheme does not apply to travel agents who sell holiday packages to other companies, in particular to other travel agents for re-sale. However, The Netherlands has failed to properly implement this special scheme for travel agents and has applied it to sales between travel agents. This creates distortions of competition between travel agencies and leads to some agents carrying a heavier tax burden than others.
The Commission has formally requested Hungary to amend its VAT legislation which does not allow lessees to benefit from VAT deductions in open-end leases of passenger vehicles. Under Hungarian law, since 1 January 2008, the VAT charged by the lessor on the open-end lease of a passenger vehicle is not deductible by the lessee. However, the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC gives taxable persons the right to deduct the VAT charged on goods purchased and services received. It also authorises Member States to restrict this right to VAT deduction only if these provisions were in place at the time of accession to the EU. As the Hungarian provision in question was introduced on 1 January 2008, i.e. after Hungary's accession to the EU in May 2004, it is contrary to EU rules. In practice, the Hungarian rules mean that citizens are not able to benefit from VAT deductions to which they are entitled under EU law. The restriction of the right to deduct VAT on the cost of leasing constitutes a charge for the lessee.
The Commission has formally requested Estonia to amend its tax legislation as it discriminates against non-resident investment funds. Under Estonian tax law, domestic investment funds are treated more favourably than comparable investment funds established in other EU Member States or in countries of the European Economic Area (EEA). In practice, it means that resident funds are entitled to get a tax exemption for their real estate income, while comparable funds established in other EU Member States and EEA countries are subject to tax, thus creating a higher tax burden on the latter.
The Commission has formally requested The Netherlands to amend its tax legislation on fiscal unities (i.e. calculation of income tax of a group of companies on a consolidated basis). Current Dutch legislation does not allow two Dutch subsidiary companies held by a foreign parent company to form a fiscal unity between them. In practice this means that companies which have their parent company in another Member State cannot benefit from the fiscal unity regime, which is contrary to EU rules. The fiscal unity regime allows companies to file a single tax return for a group of companies, thus facilitating tax compliance and allowing compensation of profits and losses.
The Commission has formally requested Poland to amend its tax legislation which discriminates against investment funds and pension funds from other EU countries and countries of the European Economic Area (EEA). Under Polish tax legislation, domestic investment funds and pension funds are exempted from corporate income tax. However, funds established outside Poland can only benefit from this exemption under certain conditions which are not applied to polish funds. Such discriminatory provisions are in breach of EU law, which requires that all tax exemptions should be granted equally to resident and non-resident taxpayers.
Dans sa lutte contre le réchauffement climatique et pour le renforcement de sa sécurité énergétique, il est devenu indispensable de réduire significativement la consommation d'énergie, notamment dans le secteur des bâtiments, qui représente à lui seul 40% de la demande énergétique finale de l'UE. La législation européenne prévoit plusieurs mesures qui doivent permettre une économie d'énergie dans les bâtiments et une diminution de la facture payée par chaque ménage. C'est pourquoi la Commission a aujourd'hui envoyé un avis motivé à la Belgique qui n'a pas encore pleinement transposé les règles européennes en la matière.
The European Commission is asking five Member States to comply with the EU Waste Framework Directive. The Member States concerned are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece and Poland. These Member States have failed to inform the Commission about the transposition of this legislation into national law, which should have happened by 12 December 2010. The Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. The Member States have two months to comply. If they fail to do so, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice and ask the Court to impose financial penalties, without having to return to the court for a second ruling.
The Commission is asking Germany to comply with two pieces of EU environmental legislation. Despite earlier warnings, Germany has failed to inform the Commission about the transposition of legislation on water quality standards, which should have been in place by 13 July 2010, and about a strategy to protect its seas, which should have been in place by 15 July 2010. The Commission has decided to send Germany a reasoned opinion, giving it two months to respond. If Germany fails to comply, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice and ask the Court to impose financial sanctions already at this stage, without having to return to the court for a second ruling.
The Commission is asking Greece to comply with a 2010 EU Court of Justice ruling on industrial installations that are operating with expired permits. Although Greece is taking action to remedy the situation, the Commission is concerned with the slow pace of progress. At least 21 industrial installations are still operating with permits that have not yet been reconsidered or updated. Under EU law, this should have been done by October 2007.
The Commission is asking Spain to take action to improve the quality of drinking water in Las Filipinas, an area in San Miguel de Salinas, Alicante, Spain. The Commission is concerned that local residents have suffered from water that is not fit for human consumption for more than a decade. Despite petitions to the European Parliament in 2005 and 2006, and the acknowledgement by the Spanish authorities that the local drinking water was not adequate for human consumption, no tangible action has been taken to solve the problem. Spain was sent a letter of formal notice about the matter in 2009, and despite a number replies, no satisfactory action has been implemented.
The Commission is referring Spain to the EU Court of Justice for breaching two pieces of EU environment legislation. In the first case, Spain is failing to ensure that waste water from agglomerations with more than 10,000 inhabitants that discharge into sensitive areas is properly treated. The lack of adequate treatment systems, which should have been in place since 1998, poses risks to human health, to inland waters and the marine environment. Slow progress by Spain has led the Commission to refer the case to the EU Court of Justice. In the second case, Spain has failed to submit its plans for managing river basins to the Commission. These plans, due to be adopted by 22 December 2009 at the latest, are essential for achieving the EU's objective of 'good status' for European waters by 2015.
The Commission is asking Ireland to take urgent action to improve the implementation of legislation that protects peat bog habitats. The Commission is concerned that peat extraction is ongoing in numerous protected Natura 2000 sites, despite letters sent out by the Irish authorities. Scientists have warned that up to 35% of certain priority habitats have been destroyed since the legislation was adopted, and that the annual rate of loss is between 1-4%. In addition, the Commission also has concerns over some 170 other protected bogs. Ireland was sent a letter of formal notice about this matter in January 2011. Although recent progress appears to have been made in relation to 32 sites, this needs to be reflected by changes on the ground.
The Commission is urging Italy to comply with a 2007 Court judgement relating to end of life vehicles. The Commission is concerned with continued shortcomings in the transposition of the legislation. The Commission is sending a complementary letter of formal notice asking Italy to adopt measures that fully comply with the legislation. Italy has two months to respond. If Italy fails to correctly transpose the Directive into national law, the Commission may decide to refer Italy back to Court and ask for financial penalties.
Despite efforts done Sweden has not yet brought its policy for the protection of endangered wolves into line with EU rules on nature protection. The European Commission has therefore decided to send a reasoned opinion requesting Sweden to amend its wolf policy. Sweden has two months to comply. If it fails to do so, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
The European Commission has formally requested eight Member States to fully implement the railway interoperability Directive of 2008 and its 2009 amendment. Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have so far failed to notify the Commission of measure taken to implement both these two Directives into national law (the deadline was 19 July 2010). The Commission has requested the Member States in question to remedy the situation within two months, failing which the Commission may refer them to the EU's Court of Justice.
The Commission has sent Sweden a formal request asking it to apply correctly the EU Directive on improving port security, and in particular to initiate assessments and develop port security plans. The Directive, which is one of the cornerstones of maritime security policy, aims to guarantee uniformly high levels of security in all European ports. Sweden has two months to show that it is applying the Directive, failing which the Commission may bring a case against Sweden before the Court of Justice of the European Union.
La Commission européenne a demandé à la Belgique, à l'Estonie, à la France, à la Hongrie, à l'Autriche, à la Pologne, au Portugal, à la Finlande et au Royaume-Uni d'adopter des dispositions législatives nationales afin d'appliquer les règles de l'UE instituant un système de suivi du trafic des navires et d'information. Ces règles, qui constituent une mesure importante pour prévenir les pertes de vies humaines et les dommages à l'environnement causés par les accidents maritimes, devaient être mises en œuvre par les États membres au plus tard le 30 novembre 2010.La demande de la Commission prend la forme d’un avis motivé, conformément aux procédures d’infraction de l’UE. Si ces États membres ne l'informent pas des mesures qu'ils ont prises pour se conformer au droit de l'UE dans les deux mois, la Commission pourra saisir la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne.
The Commission has requested Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom to implement a Directive on promoting clean and energy-efficient vehicles, in accordance with their obligations under European Union law. The deadline for implementation of the Directive was 4 December 2010. The request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If the Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.
The Commission has welcomed Ireland's decision to remove the discriminatory aspects of its air travel tax, levied on air passenger travel. The Commission had expressed its concerns that the tax breached EU law by charging passengers on flights to other Member States more than passengers on domestic flights. As Ireland now levies the same charge regardless of destination, the Commission has decided to close its infringement procedure.
The Commission has decided today to refer Portugal to the EU Court of Justice because of its failure to collect and transfer to the EU budget a payment linked to customs duties. Customs duties, which are charged on imports of goods coming from a non-EU state, are collected by Member States on behalf of the EU and paid to the common EU budget. Member States retain 25 % of the amounts collected to cover collection costs. This traditional resource makes up only a small part of the EU budget's financial resources. In 2011 this will be approximately 12%. Portugal failed to establish the customs debt on an international company's imports in due time. The Portuguese authorities started the investigation, but missed the three years deadline for claiming customs duties according to the EU Customs law.
The Commission closed infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic after it improved its rules for consumers wishing to return faulty goods. The Commission had taken legal action against the Czech Republic to ensure that it correctly transposed Directive 99/44/EC on consumer sales and associated guarantees, in particular on the right to return defective products within a two-year period. Following the changes to Czech legislation to bring it into line with the EU requirements, the Commission is now closing the case.
The Commission has given 13 Member States two months to transpose EU rules laying down criminal penalties against sea pollution and other environmental offences. Directive 2008/99/EC on criminal law measures to protect the environment should have been introduced in national law by 26 December 2010. However, 10 countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia) have so far failed to do so. Meanwhile, eight states (Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia) have failed to comply with separate rules on pollution from ships. This Directive was due to be implemented by 16 November 2010. Should the Member States concerned fail to notify the Commission of implementation measures within two months, it may refer the cases to the EU's Court of Justice.
The Commission asked Hungary and Poland today to notify national implementing measures as required by Directive 2009/145/EC on conservation varieties and the marketing of seeds varieties. Biodiversity and the conservation of seed varieties and vegetable varieties, which have been traditionally grown in specific regions and are now threatened by genetic erosion, play an important part in the agricultural activity of the European Union. They also enhance consumer choice in good-quality products, which are naturally adapted to the environmental conditions of their region. Hungary and Poland have not communicated the measures implementing this directive, which provides for certain derogations in the marketing of these vegetable and seed varieties.
The Commission asked Hungary today to notify national implementing measures as required by Directive 2010/46/EU on the marketing of certain varieties of agricultural and vegetable seeds. The marketing of vegetable and agricultural plants plays an important part in the agricultural activity of the European Union. The production of healthy, high-quality crops depends to a large extent on the material used in cultivation. Healthy, high-quality agricultural plant and vegetable seeds contribute to a more competitive EU seeds' sector and enhance consumer choice in good-quality products. Hungary has not communicated the measures implementing the directive
The Commission urges Spain to modify its legislation on the approval of associations that maintain stud-books for registered horses. Satisfactory results in animal production depend to a large extent on the use of domestic animals of high genetic quality. The EU's zoo technical legislation promotes free trade of breeding animals and their genetic material and considers the sustainability of breeding programs and the preservation of genetic resources. For horses, the basic aim of free trade is reached through harmonised recognition of stud-books. In accordance with EU law, associations establishing or maintaining stud-books for horse breeds have to be approved by the competent authorities of the Member State where they are established.
The Commission asked Germany today to notify the remaining national implementing measures of the Animal Feed Directive which sets maximum levels for undesirable substances in animal feed. "Undesirable substances" are substances or products in animal feed -such as mercury, free gossypol and nitrites- that could endanger human and animal health or have adverse effects on the environment. Human health and the environment are major policy concerns for the European Commission. To ensure consumers' confidence in the safety and quality of food and feed, undesirable substances in animal nutrition are prohibited or limited at certain levels. Healthy and high-quality livestock in all Member states depends, to a large extent, on the use of appropriate good quality feed. Rules on safe animal feed contribute to a more competitive EU producer and a citizen that is able to consume safe and good-quality products.
II. Other issues
The quality of bathing water across Europe declined slightly between 2009 and 2010, but the overall quality was still high. More than nine out of 10 bathing water sites now meet the minimum requirements. Cyprus was the star performer, with 100% of its bathing water sites meeting strict guide values, followed by Croatia (97.3%), Malta (95.4%), Greece (94.2%) and Ireland (90.1%). The results are from the annual Bathing Water Report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission, which compare water quality in more than 21,000 coastal and inland bathing sites across the EU-27. The Commission has also adopted new signs and symbols that will be used to inform the public on bathing water classification and on bathing restrictions (see link below).
"Ex-smokers are unstoppable" is the slogan of the EU-wide campaign launched today by European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli. Tobacco is the single largest cause of avoidable illness in the European Union and the estimated cause of death of over 650,000 people in the European Union every year. 1 in 3 people smoke. The 3 year campaign being launched today will focus on the positive effects of stopping smoking and will use a coordinated mix of advertising, social media, events and practical tools to reach smokers and help them quit.
Neelie Kroes reviews "state of the Digital Union"
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, will stress today to the first ever Digital Agenda Assembly that "the internet would change our world". Noting the importance of Information and Communication Technologies to provide smart, green, inclusive jobs for the future, Kroes will stress that ICT is inseparable from Europe's future prosperity. "Decision-makers should start seeing and using ICT as an essential engine for our economy – not as an optional extra…. it is about fundamentally reshaping the world we live in". Kroes will highlight how she aims to ensure that "children can surf safely, respectfully and responsibly". Parents and children need to be given tools which are simple, universal and effective - like a single click reporting system, and default privacy settings for children on social networks. On roaming services, she will reiterate the need to tackle the lack of competition. She will stress she is "not complacent" about progress in achieving the Digital Agenda, noting the importance of "getting creative" to ensure access to broadband as a "bridge to Europe's future", and the need to build up trust through better preparedness for cyberattacks. On the issue of regulating the Internet, she will indicate that "I don’t want generalised, top-down regulation of what is good or bad on the Internet, because the Internet is, and must remain, a place of freedom. Yes, regulation can sometimes be necessary as an exceptional last resort – but even then, I'm thinking of keyhole surgery, not amputation." SPEECH/11/443 EMBARGO at 15:00 PM CET
Nine year old Natalia from Bulgaria will have her name on one of the first two operational Galileo satellites to be launched on 20th October as she has won the Bulgarian part of the Galileo children's drawing competition. The European Commission is running the Galileo drawing competition for children in each of the Member States. Natalia will be presented with a trophy, to represent the satellite that will be named after her, at a special awards ceremony at the European Commission Representation in Sophia on June 16. Natalia will also receive a certificate attesting the attribution of her name to the first Galileo satellites. The European Commission will be represented at the award ceremony by Ms Catherine Kavvada and Bernhard Schnittger. The Bulgarian jury panel, comprising Niki Kunchev – TV and Radio host, Tsvetelina Bonova - Communications and Public Relations of UNICEF Bulgaria, and Alexander Alexandrov - Cosmonaut , convened on 8 June to select the winner. The criteria used were relevance of the drawing to the topic ‘Space and Aeronautics’, originality of expression and aesthetic appeal.
European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes awarded prizes to the winners of the Open Data Challenge and Hack4Europe! competitions at the Digital Agenda Assembly being held in Brussels on 16th and 17th June 2011. Companies, designers, programmers, developers, journalists, researchers and the general public from across Europe participated in the two open data competitions, trying out their ideas for creative reuse of information held by the public sector and open cultural data. European public bodies produce thousands of datasets every year - from how our tax money is spent to the quality of the air we breathe. This data can be reused in products such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information apps. EMBARGO 15:30 CET
Three out of four Europeans accept that revealing personal data is part of everyday life, but they are also worried about how companies – including search engines and social networks – use their information. These are the main conclusions of a new Eurobarometer survey on attitudes towards data protection and electronic identity, released by the European Commission today. The report reveals that 62% of people in the European Union give the minimum required information so as to protect their identity, while 75% want to be able to delete personal information online whenever they want to – the so-called right to be forgotten. There is also strong support for EU action: 90% want to have the same data protection rights across Europe.
L'Union européenne renforce son soutien au développement du secteur des transports routiers au Burundi
Après avoir appuyé le Burundi par un important investissement de plus de 105 millions d'euros dans le secteur des routes, l'Union Européenne poursuit son engagement en annonçant un le lancement d'un nouveau projet pour le développement des infrastructures routières burundaises, avec un financement d'un montant de 36 millions d'euros à l'occasion de l'inauguration d'une autre route ayant bénéficié d'un soutien de l'UE.Le projet permettra d'une part la construction et le bitumage d'une route de 63 km et, d'autre part, un appui institutionnel pour améliorer l'entretien routier. La construction de cette route contribuera à désenclaver et développer toute la région Centre-Est. Il permettra également de faciliter les échanges avec la Tanzanie voisine et l'intégration du Burundi dans la Communauté de l'Afrique de l'Est. La route à construire traversant le Parc National de la Ruvubu, une attention particulière sera donnée à la préservation de la biodiversité et de la richesse culturelle et archéologique des sites traversés.
Commission clears joint control over SCI BRP1 by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Predica and Scor
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Predica and Scor of joint control over SCI BRP 1, all of France. Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations is a public company entrusted with public service missions and operating in various services markets (real estate, capital investment, environmental services etc.). Predica is an insurance company which belongs to Crédit Agricole. Scor is a reinsurance company. SCI BRP 1 owns and manages an office building complex known as ‘River Ouest’, located near Paris. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Renewal of fisheries agreement protocol EU/Guinea Bissau
The European Union initialled yesterday evening (June 15) a new one-year protocol to the fisheries agreement with Guinea Bissau. This protocol maintains the conditions of the current one, i.e. fishing possibilities for 4,400 gross register tonnage (GRT) for shrimp trawlers, 4,400 GRT for fin-fish and cephalopod trawlers, 23 tuna seiners and longliners, and 14 pole-and-line vessels. The EU financial counterpart amounts to 4,550,000 € for the right to fish and 2,950,000 € for the support of the fisheries sector in Guinea Bissau. A new clause was added to allow for the suspension of the protocol if there is a breach of human rights and democratic principles. This fisheries agreement allows vessels mainly from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France to fish in the Guinea-Bissau waters. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/international/agreements/guinea_bissau/index_en.htm
On 16 June 2011, European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs arrived, together with German Development Minister Dirk Niebel, in Islamabad for a joint visit to Pakistan. The Commissioner will reaffirm the intentions of the European Commission to increase its development assistance to Pakistan by 50%, from €50 to €75 million a year for 2011-2013. The aid programmes will continue to focus on rural development, support for education and stronger governance.
The number of persons employed in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 was stable in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat. In the fourth quarter of 2010, employment increased by 0.2% in the euro area and by 0.1% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted. Employment in financial services & business activities increased by 0.8% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU27. Manufacturing grew by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively. Trade, transport & communication services grew by 0.1% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU27. Other services (which mainly include public administration, health and education) fell by 0.1% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU27. Falls in employment were recorded in agriculture (-1.6% in the euro area and -0.2% in the EU27) and construction (-0.8% and ‑1.1% respectively). Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment grew by 0.1% in the euro area and by 0.3% in the EU27 in the first quarter of 2011.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.7% in May 2011, down from 2.8% in April. A year earlier the rate was 1.7%. Monthly inflation was 0.0% in May 2011. EU annual inflation was 3.2% in May 2011, down from 3.3% in April. A year earlier the rate was 2.1%. Monthly inflation was 0.1% in May 2011. These figures come from Eurostat. In May 2011, the lowest annual rates were observed in Ireland (1.2%), Sweden (1.7%) and the Czech Republic (2.0%), and the highest in Romania (8.5%), Estonia (5.5%) and Lithuania (5.0%). Compared with April 2011, annual inflation rose in fourteen Member States, remained stable in four and fell in nine. The lowest 12-month averages up to May 2011 were registered in Ireland (-0.2%), Sweden (1.5%) and the Netherlands (1.6%), and the highest in Romania (7.5%), Greece (4.8%) and Estonia (4.5%).
Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Commission Vice President, travels this week to Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Palestine, for high level meetings with government leaders and international partners including the United Nations, Arab League, African Union, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Her visit comes six months after the beginning of the 'Arab Spring' and at a key moment for the Middle East Peace Process. Following the trip, she will fly immediately to Luxembourg for discussions with EU foreign ministers.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of US-based Columbian Chemicals by Indigold Carbon, which is controlled by the Indian Aditya Birla Group, both worldwide producers of carbon black. Carbon black is a chemical product used mostly in the production of tyres but also in printing inks and plastics. The Commission has concluded that although the merger would create one of the three largest companies in the sector, European customers would continue to enjoy healthy competition.
Autre matériel diffusé :
• Speech by Vice-President Kroes "State of the Digital Union" EMBARGO 15:00PM CET