EXME 12 / 20.03
Midday Express of 2012-03-20
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The winners of the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards are announced today by the European Commission and Europa Nostra (see list below). The awards will be presented on 1 June during a ceremony at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor and President of Europa Nostra. The event is taking place under the patronage of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, who will also be present, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. Of the 28 winning projects, six will be named as 'grand prix' laureates as 2012’s most outstanding heritage achievements.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of parts of Bominflot Bunkergesellschaft für Mineralöle mbH & Co. GG by Marquard & Bahls AG, both of Germany. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.
Virtually all young people are familiar with electronic games and social networking and might be considered as "digital natives", but they are not "digitally competent" in the sense that they do not know sufficiently how to use the digital world in a business context. Therefore the European Commission has launched the European e-Skills Week 2012 to mobilise stakeholders to inform young people on how to acquire e-skills and find jobs in the digital economy. By 2015, 90% of jobs will need e-skills. The number of ICT practitioners in Europe was 4.7 million in 2007 and is forecast to reach 5.26 million in 2015. In more general terms, jobs for highly-qualified people are expected to rise by 16 million between now and 2020, while those held by low-skilled workers will decline by around 12 million. This huge amount of up-skilling can only be achieved with e-skills. It is a precondition to become employable, learn and find a job online.
EU Architecture Prize exhibition in Leuven
A touring exhibition featuring models of the 45 buildings shortlisted for the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture/ Mies van der Rohe Award opens tomorrow at the M Museum in Leuven, Belgium. The exhibition, organised by Stad en Architectuur and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe , is open to the public and runs to 24 April. Seven projects by Belgian architects are featured, including one of the six finalists for the Prize, the Bronks Youth Theatre in Brussels by MDMA – Martine De Maeseneer Architecten. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "I hope the exhibition will be an occasion for visitors to appreciate the extraordinary creativity of European architecture and to understand more how much architecture impacts our daily life." The aim of the exhibition is to make the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture/ Mies van der Rohe Award more widely known to the public. In the next 12 months, the exhibition can be seen at: Haus der Architekten, Dusseldorf (1 May - 3 June); Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia (10 June - 12 July); Architekturzentrum Wien, Vienna (19 July - 8 October); Dansk Architectur Center, Copenhagen (25 October 2012 - 6 January 2013); Triennale di Milano, Milan (January - February 2013). Launched in 1987 and co-funded by the EU Culture Programme and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, the €60 000 EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture is the most prestigious award in European architecture. For more information, see IP/11/341 , IP/11/453 and IP/11/758 .
Conference on card, internet and mobile payments on 4 May 2012: registration now open
On 11 January, the Commission adopted a Green Paper 'Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments' (see IP/12/11) which launched a public stakeholder consultation running until 11 April 2012. To close the consultation process, the Commission is organising a public hearing on 4 May 2012 in Brussels. An efficient, secure and fully integrated EU payments market is essential for the functioning of the EU internal market and for economic growth. In addition, with the rise of e-commerce and the ever-increasing market penetration of smartphones, payment innovation could significantly add to the competitiveness of Europe. The Commission attaches great importance to the benefits that could be created in a competitive and integrated market and therefore the hearing will be opened by Vice-President Almunia and closed by Commissioner Barnier. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the issues raised in the Commission’s Green Paper in a public debate. High-level representatives from all relevant stakeholder categories will provide their perspective on how to achieve better market integration. A draft programme is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/docs/cim/conf_programme-2012_05_04_en.pdf . Registration is now open at the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/cim/index_en.htm
Bank accounts: the Commission launches a public consultation
The European Commission is today launching a consultation on bank accounts – focusing on the transparency and comparability of bank account fees, bank account switching and access to a basic bank account. The consultation is open to all stakeholders. The consultation, which will be available in all EU official languages, will run until 12 June 2012. The results will be taken into account by the Commission when identifying and designing the measures to be included in its Bank Accounts initiative later this year. Link to the consultation: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2012/bank_accounts_en.htm .
Additional information: Press release IP/12/164 on the publication of the "Consumer Market Study on consumers’ experiences with bank account switching (with reference to the banking industry’s self-regulatory initiative based on common principles)", 24 February 2012.
Merger: Commission clears acquisition joint control of Ipanema by Mitsubishi Corporation, Tchibo Holdings GmbH, ML Participações S/A, Paraguaçu Participações LTDA and Friele Brazil AS
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition by Mitsubishi Corporation from Japan, Tchibo Holdings GmbH from Austria, and Brazilian companies ML Participações S/A, Paraguaçu Participações LTDA and Friele Brazil AS of joint control over Ipanema Agricola S/A and Ipanema Commercial e Exportadora S/A (together "Ipanema"). Ipanema is active, mainly in Brazil, in the field of the growing, processing, producing, and marketing and selling of coffee beans and roasted coffee. Ipanema was previously jointly controlled by ML Participações S/A, Paraguaçu Participações LTDA, Friele Brazil AS and Mirian de Salles Gomes Fernandes. Mitsubishi Corporation is active in the field of general trading activities in various industries including energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, food and general merchandise. Tchibo Austria is a subsidiary of Maxingvest ag, which is mainly active through its subsidiaries in the coffee and non-food sector. ML Participações S/A and Paraguaçu Participações LTDA are investment vehicles for individuals, for the purpose of investment in Ipanema. Friele Brazil AS is an investment vehicle for Frico Invest, which is owned by individuals who are members of the Friele family, for the purpose of investment in Ipanema. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Merger: Commission clears joint control of Russia's Yamal LNG by Total and Novatek
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of the joint control of the Russian Yamal LNG by Total E&P Yamal of France (ultimately controlled by Total S.A. of France) and OAO Novatek of the Russian Federation. Yamal LNG is a joint venture that will be active in the exploration for and production of hydrocarbon raw materials in the Russian Federation. Total is active in natural gas and oil production, refining and marketing of oil products, petrochemicals and specialty chemicals. OAO Novatek is active in the exploration, production, processing and marketing of natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Joint statement by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli on Russia's decision to impose a ban on imports of live animals from the EU
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli today expressed their deep disappointment at Russia's decision to impose a ban on imports of live animals (pig, cattle, sheep, and goats) from the EU. Both Commissioners jointly described the ban as disproportionate and unjustified and called for its immediate lifting. The trade in these live animals from the EU has in no way endangered the health of citizens of the Russian Federation and these restrictions are therefore not based upon scientific fact, necessity or proportionality in any way. The European Commission considers that this import ban is not in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and with Russia's formal commitments on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) matters taken during the negotiations on Russia's WTO accession. As a result, the European Commission considers that Russia is sending a very negative signal to its international trade partners on its seriousness towards the WTO - given its pending accession to the international trade body. Russia's accession to the WTO was endorsed last December and will be effective following ratification by the Russian parliament and not later than in August 2012. Commissioners De Gucht and Dalli have both written to Russia outlining the EU's major concerns and calling on Russia to refrain from introducing this disproportionate measure. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation and will use all opportunities to ensure Russia lifts this unjustified ban. The ban on live animals, which exempts animals for breeding purposes, will particularly affect certain EU Member States to which exports to Russia represent an important part of their exports (especially of live pigs). The Russian authorities justify their ban, among other reasons, by the new Schmallenberg virus and Bluetongue situation. This is not relevant as pigs are not affected by these diseases. The total EU exports of live animals (pig, cattle, sheep, and goats) to Russia amounted to € 188 million in 2011, of which € 75 million are affected by the ban entering into force today.
Enregistrement d'une dénomination de produit agricole
La Commission européenne a ajouté une dénomination de produit agricole et alimentaire à la liste des indications géographiques protégées (IGP). Il s'agit du sel marin français "Sel de Guérande/Fleur de sel de Guérande". Elle s'ajoute à la liste de plus de 1000 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles sur l'internet à l'adresse: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm
Food Chain: EU Expert Report concludes hormone and antibiotic residues in animals have stabilised
Based on 736.806 analytical results collected by Member States, the Commission has today published a report which reassuringly concludes that for the reporting period 2010, only 0.33% of the total number of targeted samples on residues was detected in animals as being non-compliant with EU standards. The results were even lower for the illegal use of growth hormones (0.15 %) and the use of antimicrobial substances (which can only be administered to animals for treatment, 0.23 %). Contaminants (persistent substances such as dioxins or chemical elements such as lead and copper), account for the highest percentage of non-compliance (1.5%). The finding of only 0.33 % in 2010 is within the range of the previous three years (0.32 % to 0.34 %), which indicates a stabilisation in the results. Samples of food of animal origin (meat, farmed fish, milk, honey and eggs), live animals, as well as the animal feed and drinking water, are tested for presence of residues. Upon detection of non compliances, a system of follow-up actions including spot checks on farms of origin or departure, is carried out. During these spot checks, evidence of misuse or abuse is sought (e.g. presence of illegal veterinary medicinal products). Imports from countries outside of the EU were also covered by the report and used as part of the annual evaluation and authorisation of meat imports into the EU. Apart from respecting conditions related to animal health, third countries who want to export these food commodities to the EU, need to submit monitoring plans and the results to the Commission for approval. Information generated from samples at import showed that of the 5.377 samples taken, 0.76 % were non-compliant. For more information:
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton signed today, on behalf of the European Union, two Financing Agreements with Prime Minister Fayyad for a total value of €35 million. This funding will enable the building of a medium-scale wastewater treatment plant in Tubas Tayasir areas in the West Bank (€22 million) and the upgrading of border crossing infrastructure at the Karem Abu Salem/Kerem Shalom crossing point (€13million), which is currently the only functioning goods crossing point in the Gaza Strip.
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