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Daily News – 16.12.2008

EXME08 / 16.12


News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

16/ 12 / 08

La Commission européenne a autorisé, conformément aux règles du traité CE relatives aux aides d'État, l'octroi par les autorités suédoises d'une aide d'urgence d'un montant de 225 millions € (2,4 milliards SEK) en liquidités à la banque Carnegie Investment Bank AB. La Commission a pu constater que la mesure était conforme à sa communication relative aux aides d'État destinées à surmonter la crise financière actuelle (voir IP/08/1495). Cette mesure constitue un moyen adéquat de remédier à une perturbation grave de l'économie suédoise tout en évitant des distorsions excessives de la concurrence et elle est donc compatible avec l'article 87, paragraphe 3, point b), du traité CE. En particulier, les mesures arrêtées, dont la durée et la portée sont limitées, contiennent des garde-fous destinés à éviter les abus.

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for regional policy, visits Scotland tomorrow where she will hold talks with First Minister Alex Salmond on the European Economic Recovery Plan and visit regeneration and educational projects which have received funding through the EU's Cohesion Policy. She will also meet representatives from Glasgow City Council and deliver a keynote address on better governance at the Institut Français in Edinburgh.

The European Commission today took a major step towards the deployment and use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in road transport. ITS can significantly contribute to a cleaner, safer and more efficient transport system. The action plan adopted today suggests a set of concrete measures and a Directive laying down the framework for their implementation.

The European Commission has announced today the results of the "MEDI-FAKE" action, which targeted customs control on illegal medicines entering the EU. On the basis of a risk profile disseminated by the Commission, customs from the 27 Member States put special focus over a two month period on coordinated action to stop illegal medicines from entering the European Union. Among the products which were intercepted were antibiotics, anti-cancer, anti-malaria and anti-cholesterol medicines, as well as painkillers, Viagra and drug precursors. This first EU coordinated action had tremendous results, with more than 34 million illegal medicines seized. It also highlighted a number of ways of improving the fight against trafficking in illegal, dangerous or counterfeit goods. It paves the way for future similar actions.

The European Commission welcomes today’s support of the European Parliament for a new directive to overcome fragmentation of the European defence market. The directive on intra-EU transfers of defence-related products, once implemented, will alleviate obstacles to intra-community trade and eliminate most transit formalities, while preserving Member States’ control over their defence and security interests. The EP vote is based on an agreement reached with the Council.

The European Commission welcomes today’s support of the European Parliament for its proposal to reduce in 2012 emissions from trucks and busses of nitrogen oxides by 80% and particulate matter by 66% compared to the Euro V stage. The proposal will also add to the competitiveness of the European automotive industry through the introduction of world-wide harmonised test procedures and standards. At the same time current legislation will be simplified as directives, which up to now need to be transposed in 27 different national legislations, will be replaced by regulations which are directly applicable. The EP vote is based on a compromise reached with the Member States, who are expected to adopt the package shortly.

The number of persons employed in the euro area (EA15) decreased by 0.1% (80 000 persons) in the third quarter of 2008 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat. In the same period, the number of persons employed in the EU27 remained virtually stable. In the second quarter of 2008, growth rates were +0.2% in the euro area and +0.1% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment grew by 0.8% in the euro area and by 1.0% in the EU27 in the third quarter of 2008, after +1.3% and +1.4% respectively in the second quarter of 2008. Eurostat estimates that, in the third quarter of 2008, 226.7 million men and women were employed in the EU27, of which 146.1 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 measures of national accounts.

  • No disturbances expected for electricity supply this winter

In the case of normal weather conditions this is the conclusion reached today at the meeting of the European Commission Electricity Cross-Border Committee meeting. The Association of the European Transmission System Operators (ETSO) presented to the Committee their analysis of the situation as well as the preventive measures taken to avoid disturbances in electricity supply this winter.

"Rising demand for electricity and energy in general requires good coordination between European electricity companies. Only this way we can ensure uninterrupted service to citizens and industry and make rational use of resources available”, said Commissioner Piebalgs. The Electricity Cross-Border Committee includes representatives of EU Member States – Ministries responsible for energy and energy regulators. ETSO made a presentation at the meeting, explaining various scenarios for electricity supply this winter. The Commission also presented a consultation document which focuses on fair and non-discriminatory arrangements for Trans-European cross-border power flows.

  • European Parliament approves more flexible basis for the European Training Foundation (ETF)

The European Commission welcomes today's vote at the European Parliament in favour of updating the function and mandate of the EU agency which supports education and training in countries surrounding the EU. This new legal basis, an adaptation of the act which established the body in 1990, will give the European Training Foundation (ETF) more flexibility to meet the needs of Commission services and partner countries. The update reflects recent developments in the EU's external relations and improves the agency's governance. The agency's current focus on vocational education and training (VET) will be broadened by introducing the concept of 'human capital development', which embraces continuous education and integration into the labour market. Press release issued by the ETF:$FILE/Mediarelease.Recast.16.12.2008_EN.pdf

European Training Foundation (ETF): Homepage

  • Tax fraud: Commissioner Kovács welcomes adoption by the Council of two measures aimed at improving fight against fraud in the area of VAT and excise duties

Today, the Council of Ministers adopted a modification of the VAT Directive which enables Member States to detect VAT carousel fraud quickly (see IP/08/454), by speeding up the exchange of information between tax administrations on cross-border transactions. The Council also adopted a Directive on excise duties, which will strengthen the fight against fraud by providing a legal framework for the use of a computerised system to monitor the movement of excise goods within the EU, replacing Directive 92/12/EEC from 1 April 2010 (see IP/08/241). László Kovács, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs said: "A coordinated EU fight against tax fraud has been very high on my political agenda, as I am convinced that Member States cannot be effective if they act alone in this area. I therefore welcome today's progress in the field of VAT and excise duties. The measures adopted today are part of a whole package designed to improve cooperation and the effective exchange of information between national administrations in the fight against tax fraud. Tax fraud deprives necessary resources from Member States, which are needed to implement their national social, environmental or economic policies. Today this problem is more acute than ever, as governments face the effects of the global financial crisis." The Midday express is available at this web link: For more information on the fight against VAT fraud, see For more information on the modification of the excise duty Directive, see


The European Commission has welcomed the adoption by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) of a three-year management plan for yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Key elements include a 30% reduction over three years in catches of bigeye tuna, and a two-month prohibition on fishing with floating platforms which are used to attract fish, to be extended to three months in 2010. Though these measures do not go as far as the results the European Union was seeking, they represent a positive step in the right direction towards the conservation of these stocks. This is particularly the case for bigeye tuna, on which scientists have been calling for a substantial reduction in fishing pressure. The plan also contains control and monitoring measures, as well as a ban on discards in these two fisheries. The Commission is committed to continuing its work within the WCPFC to strengthen and develop measures that will lead to sustainable fisheries in the area under its responsibility.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Intelligent Transport Systems Action Plan - Key questions and answers

• Memo Ja zu Kinderbüchern aus Pappe auch mit der neuen Spielzeugrichtlinie

• Speech by Commissioner Fischer Boel 'The School Fruit Scheme: an investment in the future', Brussels

• Discours du Président Barroso 'Une Victoire de l'Europe Partenaire', Strasbourg