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Daily News – 20.01.2011

EXME 11 / 20.01

Midday Express of 2011-01-20

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

Announcement of transitional measure: EU ETS registry system

As of 19 January 2011, 19:00 Central European Time, the European Commission will suspend transactions, except for allocation and surrender of allowances, in all EU ETS registries at least until 26 January 2011, 19:00 Central European Time. This transitional measure is taken in view of recurring security breaches in national registries over the last two months. Following a first such security breach in early 2010 the Commission has worked closely with national authorities responsible for registries to ensure that adequate security measures are put in place in all registries. The incidents over the last weeks have underlined the urgent need for all registries to ensure that these measures are speedily implemented. The Commission will make further announcements early next week and will work to ensure that this transitional measure can be lifted swiftly for all those registries with adequate security measures. The Commission will proceed to determine together with national authorities what minimum security measures need to be put in place before the suspension of a registry can be lifted.

State aid: Commission approves record amount of state aid for the deployment of broadband networks in 2010

In keeping with the ambitious digital agenda goals set in the EU 2020, the European Commission has approved, under the EU guidelines for state aid to broadband, the use of over €1.8 billion public funds for broadband development to support economic recovery, inclusive growth and the long term competitiveness of the EU. The public funds are aimed to ensure that all citizens have access to high speed Internet access in the European Union, including in rural or remote areas.

European Research Council announces € 590 million in new grants

The European Research Council (ERC) is announcing today grants totalling €590 million to 266 experienced top researchers, of 26 nationalities. The grants are worth up to € 3.5 million each, cover all areas of knowledge and are awarded to individuals for specific pioneering work to be undertaken throughout Europe. To give just four examples among the 266, the projects funded will include: developing a chip-sized device to monitor air, water or food quality (University of Ghent, Belgium); exploring how the placebo effect can be used to improve medical treatments (University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany); studying the effect of air pollution on the neurological development of children (Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Barcelona, Spain); and, exploiting plant strategies to develop new antibiotics (Bay Zoltan Alkalmazott Kutatasi Kozalapitvany, Hungary). Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This latest wave of ERC funding for world-class researchers to do pioneering work at the frontiers of knowledge will help to spark new discoveries and in turn feed the EU's Innovation Union, of which the ERC is an integral part. This kind of investment in excellence is imperative for Europe if we are to compete in the global scientific and economic arenas and deliver on our Europe 2020 objectives of sustainable growth and jobs." More information and a full list of projects in the accompanying ERC press release and at

Implementation of ban on conventional cages for laying hens confirmed

The time frame for the implementation of the ban on the use of conventional cages for laying hens was declared feasible yesterday at a meeting of major European stakeholders in Brussels – these cages will have to be phased out in the EU by January 1, 2012. The stakeholders also stressed firmly that the circulation of eggs produced in non-compliant systems should be avoided, while they agreed that any new measures to ensure compliance will require further assessment. The European Commission welcomes the constructive debate that took place yesterday and notes that its outcome will reinforce consumers’ trust in the enforcement of animal welfare rules. It will also ensure the proper functioning of the internal market in terms of eggs and egg products. The Commission will now analyse all the options emerging from yesterday’s meeting and will continue the dialogue with competent authorities and all the sectors concerned in order to ensure the proper enforcement of the legislation. The Commission organised yesterday’s meeting to discuss the state of play regarding the implementation of Council Directive 1999/74/EC on the protection of laying hens. Representatives from the Member States and from industry, farming, animal welfare and consumers' organizations were invited to Brussels to discuss available tools and best practices in order to focus all existing resources on the timely implementation of the ban. The issue of applying common welfare standards to products of animal origin was also discussed at length during the meeting. Stakeholders agreed that having common welfare standards for products produced into the EU and imported to the Union from third countries would be the preferred option. For more information, please visit:

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of general insurance and reinsurance group Brit Insurance by private equity investment funds CVC and Apollo

The European Commission has approved under the Merger Regulation the acquisition of the general insurance and reinsurance group Brit Insurance Holdings Ltd o of the Netherlands, by private equity investment funds CVC Capital Partners SICAV-FIS S.A., and Apollo Management L.P. The deal does not raise any competition concerns in the insurance and reinsurance markets.

Commission clears acquisition by Wittington Investments of Divisie Bijenkorf

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Wittington Investments, Limited ("Wittington") of Canada, of Divisie Bijenkorf B.V. ("Divisie Bijenkorf") of The Netherlands. Wittington is active in food processing and distribution, financial products and services, commercial real estate holdings and operation of luxury fashion retail stores. Divisie Bijenkorf is the leading luxury department store in the Netherlands which operates 12 department stores offering a wide range of products consisting of leading international A-brands and a well-established private label, De Bijenkorf. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears prolongation of Slovenian short-term export credit insurance scheme

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a prolongation until 31 December 2011 of the Slovenian short-term export-credit insurance scheme. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 16 March 2010 ( IP/10/282) to be in line with the conditions of its Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis (see IP/08/1993 and IP/10/1636). In particular, Slovenia provided recent evidence proving to the Commission's satisfaction that for certain markets the short-term export-credit insurance cover on the private markets is still unavailable. The Commission has therefore concluded that this measure represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Slovenian economy and as such is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


Déclaration du commissaire européen à la santé et à la politique des consommateurs, M. John Dalli, sur la directive de l’UE relative aux droits des patients en matière de soins de santé transfrontaliers

Le Parlement européen a adopté aujourd’hui la directive de l’UE relative à l’application des droits des patients en matière de soins de santé transfrontaliers. M. Dalli a déclaré: «Le vote d’aujourd’hui marque une étape importante dans le renforcement des droits des patients en Europe. Je tiens à féliciter et à remercier le Parlement européen et, en particulier, Mme Grossetête, rapporteur sur le sujet, pour leur détermination à promouvoir les droits des patients et à faciliter les démarches des citoyens européens désireux de se faire soigner dans un autre État membre.

Air transport: Vice President Kallas convenes European airports to draw the lessons from air travel disruption due to snow

Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice President in charge of transport, met today in Brussels with CEO's from major European airports to discuss how to prevent the problems that occurred at airports last month due to heavy snow fall. The adverse weather forced major EU airports to close or partially close which significantly disrupted air traffic across Europe. Several thousand passengers had to spend the night at airports and 35,000 flights were cancelled. This is more than the cancellations for the whole of 2009. The Commission will bring forward specific measures to address some of the key issues in the Airports Package which will be published later this year.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Speech by President Barroso Stability and growth: Setting Europe on course, Stuttgart

Memo Q&A: Patients' Rights in Cross-Border Healthcare – en rediffusion

Statement by Vice President Kallas on snow disruption across Europe – en rediffusion

Speech by Vice President Kallas on Air Travel Disruption to ACI Board Meeting, Brussels – en rediffusion

Response by President Barroso at the post-European Council debate, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Speech by HR/VP Ashton on Belarus, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Speech by HR/VP Ashton on the Sahel region, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Speech by HR/VP Ashton on the situation of Christians in the context of religious freedom, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Speech by HR/VP Ashton at the Official Opening of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe, Strasbourg – en rediffusion