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Daily News – 19.01.2009

Midday Express of 2009-01-19

European Commission - 19/01/2009

EXME09 / 19.01

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

19 / 01 / 09

La croissance du PIB de l'Union européenne devrait reculer de 1,8 % en 2009 avant de connaître une légère remontée de 0,5 % en 2010. Cette situation résulte des effets de la crise financière profonde sur l'économie réelle et de son corollaire, le ralentissement de l'activité économique mondiale, qui se traduit par une forte contraction des échanges commerciaux internationaux et de la production manufacturière et, dans certains pays, par des corrections du marché du logement. La consommation et l'investissement du secteur public offriront néanmoins une bouffée d'oxygène. L'atténuation des pressions inflationnistes favorise également la consommation privée. Les mesures budgétaires discrétionnaires annoncées en août 2008 limiteront la contraction de la croissance du PIB d'environ ¾ de point de pourcentage cette année. La gravité du ralentissement économique aura des répercussions significatives sur l'emploi et sur les finances publiques au cours de la période considérée.

The European Commission has released its European Financial Integration Report (EFIR) - an annual analysis of the integration in the EU financial sector and its effects on competition, efficiency, financial stability and competitiveness. EFIR also includes a progress report on EU financial services policy achievements in 2008.

The European Commission has published a European Database for Financial Education (EDFE) on the "Europa" website. It has been designed to reference numerous financial education programmes offered by public or private institutions in the European Union. The EDFE includes standardised information about educational schemes and research projects. It is open to all providers and potential users. By improving access to information about the existing initiatives the Commission wants to contribute to improving financial capability of consumers and users of financial services.

The European Commission publishes results of an open public consultation on the future priorities in the area of freedom, security and justice for the years 2010-2014 and a Eurobarometer on awareness of key-policies in the same area.

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu des règles du traité CE sur les aides d'Etat, la première d’une série de mesures d’aides aux entreprises envisagées par le Portugal pour faire face à la crise économique actuelle. Cette mesure permettra d'accorder, sur les deux années 2009 et 2010, des aides allant jusqu'à 500 000 euros aux entreprises mises en difficulté par la crise économique actuelle ou qui rencontrent des problèmes de financement en raison du resserrement du crédit. Le régime remplit les conditions de l'encadrement temporaire de la Commission qui donne aux Etats membres des possibilités supplémentaires pour faciliter l’accès des entreprises au financement dans le contexte de la crise économique et financière (voir IP/08/1993). Le régime est par conséquent compatible avec l'article 87, paragraphe 3, point b) du traité CE, qui permet des aides pour remédier à une perturbation grave de l'économie d'un Etat membre.

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu des règles du traité CE sur les aides d'État, la première d’une série de mesures d’aides aux entreprises adoptées par la France pour faire face à la crise économique actuelle. Cette mesure permet aux pouvoirs publics, aux collectivités territoriales et à certains organismes publics d'accorder, sur les deux années 2009 et 2010, des aides allant jusqu'à 500 000 euros aux entreprises mises en difficulté par la crise économique actuelle ou qui rencontrent des problèmes de financement en raison du resserrement du crédit.

La Commission a décidé aujourd'hui d'autoriser une aide au sauvetage en faveur du transporteur aérien autrichien. L'aide prendra la forme d'une garantie d'emprunt d'une valeur d'environ 200 millions d'euros, dans le but d'aider la compagnie à poursuivre ses activités jusqu'à ce que la Commission prenne position sur un autre problème concernant une éventuelle aide d'État liée à sa privatisation.

In the construction sector, seasonally adjusted production decreased by 1.1% in the euro area (EA15) and by 1.6% in the EU27 in November 2008, compared with the previous month. In October, production fell by 0.1% in the euro area, but increased by 0.5% in the EU27. Compared with November 2007, output in November 2008 dropped by 4.7% in the euro area and by 4.2% in the EU27. These first estimates are released by Eurostat.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Opticable by Nexans and SEI

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Opticable of Belgium by Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd (SEI) of Japan, and Nexans group (Nexans) of France. SEI manufactures and sells electric wires, harness and cables, as well as optical fibres and telecom fibre optic cables for terrestrial applications. Nexans is active in the cable industry offering an extensive range of cables and cabling systems in the infrastructure, industry, building and local area network markets. As a complementary activity it also provides fibre optic cables. Opticable, currently controlled solely by Nexans, manufactures and sells fibre optic cables for terrestrial applications in Europe. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Conference on Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare, 20-21 January 2009

A conference on "Global Trade and Farm Animal Welfare” will take place on 20 and 21 January 2009 in Brussels, organised by the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers and the Directorate-General for External Trade of the European Commission, together with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Eurogroup for Animals, Compassion In World Farming and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The conference is part of several international activities led by the Commission which seek to raise awareness of animal welfare issues globally, as foreseen in the Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010. This event follows up the "International Forum on Global Aspects of Farm Animal Welfare", which took place in April 2008, co-organised with the same organisations. The aim of the event, which will be opened by Commissioner Vassiliou and Mr Petr Gandalovic, the Czech Minister for Agriculture, is to bring together representatives from all continents, to discuss positive experiences of the inclusion of animal welfare in relation to trade. The conference also forms part of the efforts of the Commission to catalyse stakeholders and international organisations (OIE, FAO, UN, WHO, WB, WTO) into supporting and promoting higher animal welfare standards. The event also seeks to foster a culture of constructive dialogue between stakeholders and ministerial representatives from the major EU trading partners with a view towards developing a global strategy to address the issue of animal welfare and trade. Commissioner Vassiliou said: “The improvement of farm animal welfare is a challenge that the Commission embraced many years ago. However, lasting improvements can only be achieved by common understanding, engagement and international partnership. With this conference, we aim to further develop a culture of constructive dialogue among all stakeholders to improve animal welfare globally, through the creation of new market opportunities for animal welfare friendly products and a "People Centred" approach to the central issues.” A press point with Commissioner Vassiliou will follow shortly after her speech. More details on this conference may be found at the following internet address: http://www.animalwelfareandtrade.com/index.php

Rediffusion

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Abieta Chemie GmbH of Germany by the Arizona Chemical group of the US. The Commission concluded that the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or in any substantial part of it.

  • Statement by Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy

“It was indispensable to have a ceasefire. I welcome the fact that Israel has declared a ceasefire. I call on Hamas to refrain from any violence in order to allow for an end to the terrible human suffering. It should also allow the EU and other donors to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance. Our priority is a durable peace. I hope we will soon see the regular opening of the Gaza crossings and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza strip. As foreseen by UNSCR 1860, we encourage tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Antitrust: Commission confirms sending a Statement of Objections to Microsoft on the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows

• Speech by Commissioner Borg 'The European Union's strategy of sustainable management for the Arctic', Tromso (Norway)

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