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Daily News – 19.11.2012

EXME 12 / 19.11

Midday Express of 2012-11-19

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Study calls for stronger focus on IT and entrepreneurial skills in schools

The teaching of IT, entrepreneurial and citizenship skills is fundamental for preparing young people for today's job market, but, in general, schools are still paying insufficient attention to these transversal skills compared with basic skills in literacy, mathematics and science, according to a new European Commission report. Part of the problem is rooted in difficulties with assessment. For example, only 11 European countries (Belgium Flemish community, Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Finland) have standardised procedures to assess citizenship skills, which aim to develop critical thinking and active participation in school and society. Such testing does not exist at all for entrepreneurship and IT skills in any of the 31 countries which took part in the survey (27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey). The report also outlines progress in teaching six of the eight key competences defined at EU level for lifelong learning in knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Flood- stricken Bangladeshi to get food aid and livelihood support thanks to new EU assistance

The European Commission is boosting its aid to the victims of major floods in Bangladesh. The Commission will give an additional €1 million for food and livelihood support for around 49,000 vulnerable households while they recover from the flood impact in the worst affected areas of the north-western region of the country.

Digital Agenda: Tech CEOs and leaders kickstart new EU cloud computing board

The Steering Board of the new European Cloud Partnership (ECP) met for the first time in Brussels today, kicking-off a process where public authorities and industry work together to help building the EU Digital Single Market for cloud computing pursuant to the European Cloud Computing Strategy . Specifically, the ECP aims at leveraging the public sector's buying power to shape the growing and maturing market for cloud computing services. Chaired by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, the board brings together tech Chief Executive Officers and government representatives with responsibility for IT procurement. The board will deliver strategic advice to Vice President Kroes (see annex for full list of members).

Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2013 for fish stocks under international agreements

The European Commission today presented its proposal for next year's (2013) fishing opportunities for fish stocks which are jointly managed with third parties, such as Norway or Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) throughout the world. International negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still on-going. The proposal therefore includes relatively few figures at this stage. It will be completed once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.

September 2012 compared with August 2012 - Euro area production in construction down by 1.4% - Down by 1.8% in EU27

In the construction sector, seasonally adjusted production fell by 1.4% in the euro area (EA17) and by 1.8% in the EU27 in September 2012, compared with the previous month, according to first estimates released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In August 2012, production rose by 0.6% and 0.2% respectively. Compared with September 2011, production in September 2012 dropped by 2.6% in the euro area and by 5.8% in the EU27.

Commission clears acquisition of Douglas Holding by Advent

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Douglas Holding of Germany by Advent of USA. Advent is a private equity investor with holdings in various sectors whereas Douglas is a retailer of consumer goods with activities in (i) fragrances, cosmetics, and toiletries (Douglas), (ii) books (Thalia), (iii) jewellery and watches (Christ), (iv) fashion (Appelrath-Cüpper), and (v) confectionery (Hussel). The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears creation of joint venture by Talisman and Sinopec

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed creation of a joint venture (JV) by Talisman Energy Inc. of Canada, and China Petrochemical Corporation. The JV will be active in the exploration and production of petroleum in the UK North Sea. Talisman is active in the exploration, development, production and marketing of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. Sinopec is active in the exploration and development of resources, storage and transportation of oil and gas, refining and petrochemical production and sale of refined products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Fight against arms trafficking: Where do we stand?

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström will speak at the high level conference 'Fight against illicit trafficking in firearms. Where do we stand? 'Illicit trafficking in firearms represents a growing threat to the security of the European citizens and a lucrative business for organised crime. The illegal firearms' trade generates about €180 million per year globally. This amount only reflects part of the real threat posed by arms trafficking which often involves other serious crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and corruption. The conference aims to provide an overall picture of where the European Union stands in terms of existing legislation and policies on illicit firearms trafficking. It will help identify future steps to improve the European legal framework and effectively address this phenomenon. The Conference will gather experts from the Law Enforcement Agencies, representatives from the industry and the civil society, as well as policy makers of all EU Member States to discuss political guidance and possible Commission initiatives in this field. Commissioner Malmström will call for the full support and engagement from actors at all levels – international, national, regional and local - to develop a stronger EU policy in this area. Cecilia Malmström's speech will be available on Rapid at midday.

Commissioner Andor: active ageing - a challenge for the individual and society

The need to foster "an active-ageing culture that includes older people, rather than excluding them – a culture that develops their potential rather than focusing on their weaknesses, that empowers instead of patronising them" is the key message that, László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion is delivering today at the International Conference on "Ageing and Social Innovation". Andor stresses that active ageing is a key response to population ageing and is crucial to solidarity between generations and calls for action from Member States by highlighting the importance of the national pension reform, addressed in a White Paper beginning of this year. He recalls that the Commission will propose to step up support for social innovation in the next funding period (2014 to 2020). Lastly, Andor underlines the key role of the European Social Fund in supporting life-long learning and helping people to acquire the right skills to remain on the labour market. "We look forward creating an environment where growing old does not necessarily mean become dependent on others" Andor concludes. See SPEECH/12/839


State aid: Commission approves amendments to the restructuring plan of ING

Following an agreement between the European Commission and The Netherlands, the Commission has approved an amended restructuring plan of the Dutch-based financial institution ING under EU state aid rules. ING agreed to a fixed repayment schedule and revamped its proposals to ensure that a new competitive force emerges in the Dutch retail market. At the same time the prolongation of certain deadlines for the divestment of assets is compensated by longer behavioural constraints on the bank. This new plan addresses the Commission's concerns.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo Déclaration suite à la rencontre du Président Barroso avec le President de la République française François Hollande à l'Elysée – rediffusion

Memo Reunión entre el Presidente de la Comisión europea, Jose Manuel Durão Barroso, y el Presidente del Gobierno español, Mariano Rajoy – comunicado de prensa conjunto - rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso at Ibero- American Summit – rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner László ANDOR at the Conference on "Ageing and Social Innovation" organised by the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon: "Active ageing – a challenge for the individual and for society"

Discours du Commissaire Michel Barnier à la Conférence "Stabilité financière et marché unique – Les clés de la croissance en Europe": "Le marché unique est l'un de nos meilleurs atouts pour la stabilité financière et la relance de l'économie : ne laissons pas la crise le fragmenter !"

Speech by Commissioner Malmström: "Fight against arms trafficking: Where do we stand?"

Speech by Commissioner Janez Potočnik: "Following up on Rio+20 – delivering on land degradation" –rediffusion