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Daily News – 20.12.2010

Midday Express of 2010-12-20

Commission Européenne - 20/12/2010

EXME 10 / 20.12

Midday Express of 2010-12-20

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

EU and China to debate economic and trade issues at high level dialogue

The EU and China will hold their third High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) on 20 and 21 December in Beijing. It is the first such meeting since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and will cover macro-economic challenges facing the international economy, competition questions as well as trade, investment, innovation, and customs cooperation.

Taxation: Removing cross-border tax obstacles for EU citizens

Today, the Commission published a Communication which outlines the most serious tax problems that EU citizens face in cross-border situations and announces plans for solutions. When individuals move or work or invest abroad, they can encounter double taxation and other difficulties such as in claiming tax refunds and in obtaining information on foreign tax rules. The Communication announces plans in some areas such as cross-border income, inheritance taxes, dividend taxes, car registration taxes and e-Commerce. Today's Communication also aims to see where further action could be taken, at both EU and national level, to make Member States' tax systems more compatible so that citizens will not be deterred from engaging in cross-border activities.

Reducing emissions from shipping: Commission's Joint Research Centre sets out some options

Maritime transport causes about 4% of global man-made CO2 emissions which makes its carbon footprint approximately as high as Germany's. There is no regulation of international maritime transport emissions yet, but this is currently under discussion in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In respect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, shipping is the most environmentally-friendly mode of transport. However, if no action is taken, it is estimated that emissions from ships will increase by 150-200% by 2050. At present, around 50,000 merchant ships transport 90% of global goods and make maritime transport indispensable for the world economy. A report published today by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), provides the first comprehensive overview of methodologies for estimating air emissions from shipping, describes technological solutions and analyses policy options for reducing carbon emissions and air pollution in this sector.

La Commission autorise la Hongrie à prolonger la période transitoire prévue pour l'acquisition de terres agricoles

La Commission européenne a décidé aujourd'hui de prolonger de trois ans, à la suite d'une demande présentée par la Hongrie le 10 septembre 2010, la période transitoire dont bénéficie ce pays concernant l'acquisition de terres agricoles par des personnes physiques qui ne sont pas résidentes en Hongrie ou qui n'ont pas la nationalité hongroise, d'une part, et par des personnes morales, d'autre part. Cette décision a été prise sur la base des informations fournies par la Hongrie, selon lesquelles le marché des terres agricoles pourrait être gravement perturbé en cas d'expiration de la période transitoire. La Commission a par ailleurs invité la Hongrie à accélérer sa réforme agricole et, plus particulièrement, à progresser sur d'autres facteurs institutionnels, tels que l'achèvement des programmes de restitution.

Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Czech energy companies Energetický a průmyslový holding and J&T Investment Advisors for obstruction during inspection

The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to Energetický a průmyslový holding and J&T Investment Advisors, active in the electricity sector in the Czech Republic. The Commission's preliminary view is that the companies obstructed an inspection carried out by Commission officials from 24 to 26 November 2009 at their premises in Prague as part of an antitrust investigation. Such obstruction would be in breach of companies' obligations to cooperate with Commission officials during such inspections and to disclose all documents relevant to the investigation.

State aid: Commission authorises prolongation of Hungarian real economy scheme; first following extension of crisis package

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules the prolongation until 31 December 2011 of a Hungarian scheme to grant limited amounts of aid (up to €500 000 per beneficiary) to companies that experience difficulties to access finance in the wake of the financial crisis. The Commission has concluded that the scheme is in line with the Commission's temporary framework on aid to business during the crisis, that the Commission decided on 1 December 2010 to partially extend until 31 December 2011 (see IP/10/1636).

Guinée-Bissau: la Commission propose l'ouverture de consultations pour non respect des principes démocratiques

La Commission a proposé aujourd'hui aux Etats membres l'ouverture de consultations avec la Guinée-Bissau. Cette initiative, qui se fonde sur l'article 96 de l'accord de Cotonou conclu entre l'UE et 76 pays d'Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique, traduit l'inquiétude suscitée par la situation en Guinée-Bissau en termes de respect des principes démocratiques et de l'État de droit. Cette décision reflète aussi la volonté de mettre en place une stratégie de sortie de crise avec les différents acteurs impliqués. La proposition d'ouverture de consultations sera examinée par les 27 États membres de l'Union européenne avant d'être entamée.

SUDAN: EU to observe the South Sudan Referendum

The European Union has today deployed an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the Southern Sudan Referendum, scheduled to take place between 9 and 15 January 2011.

The EU allocates EUR 16 million to health and agriculture in Zimbabwe in recognition of sound macroeconomic policies

Today, the European Commission approved an allocation to Zimbabwe of € 16 million from the European Development Fund. The resources will be used to provide essential medicines to the people of Zimbabwe and agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers. The decision was taken in recognition of the strong fiscal and macroeconomic performance of the country.

The EU supports migration management, health and planning of development in Nigeria

Today, the European Commission approved three projects to support Nigeria's development for a total amount of EUR 84 million from the 10th European Development Fund. These projects will contribute to improve migration management, health governance and planning of aid and development. The first project "Promoting better management of migration in Nigeria" (EUR 20 million) aims at increasing the capacity of Nigerian authorities to manage organised labour migration and to combat irregular migration, especially to Europe. The second project aims at reducing child morbidity and mortality through better information and knowledge generation of key institutions for routine immunisation. In Nigeria, healthcare delivery remains poor and child and maternal mortality is high, and it is one of the very few countries in the world where polio remains endemic. This is why EUR 55 million have been granted to the project "EU support to Immunization Governance in Nigeria". Finally, the support to the office of National Authorising Officer (EUR 9 million) aims at increasing capacity of the National Planning Commission (office of the National Authorising officer of the European Development Fund) in ensuring efficient and effective coordination of development activities and development partners.

The European Union supports the education system in Papua New Guinea

Today, the European Commission approved a financing decision of EUR 13 million in favour of Papua New Guinea to fund a Human Resources Development Programme. This programme aims at promoting the development of human resources in the education sector by improving management capacities of the education system and increasing access to teacher training. The activities conducted under this programme the provision of infrastructure and scholarship, particularly for teachers coming from remote areas. It will enhance access of teachers to pre-service and in-service training, thereby improving the improvement of pedagogical and management skills of basic education school teachers.

Vice-President Tajani inaugurates Galileo Control Centre in Fucino, Italy

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani today inaugurated the Galileo Control Centre in Fucino, Italy, together with leaders from the European space industry and the European Space Agency. The control centre, built by French-Italian joint venture Telespazio, will handle the transmission of navigation signals to the satellites and guarantee the quality of service to end-users. From the centre’s control room it will be possible to control the movement of all the satellites in orbit. Fucino will complement the Galileo control centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Both control centres will be operated by SpaceOpal (joint venture between Telespazio and the German Aerospace Centre, DLR). Today's inauguration marks another important step in the deployment of the Galileo programme, Europe's initiative for a state-of-the art global navigation satellite system. The inauguration of the Fucino Control Centre follows the recent opening of the Galileo Kiruna Ground Station in Sweden on 13 December 2010 which complements the existing infrastructure of equatorial ground stations already in place. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/satnav

New EU energy labels for TVs, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines help you save money

Today the rules for new EU energy labels for TVs, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines entered into force. The labels can be used on a voluntary basis already now but will become mandatory in December 2011. The energy labels help consumers to choose the most energy efficient appliances and save money. For TVs, which can represent up to 10 % of the household consumption, it is the very first time when the energy efficiency has to be demonstrated on the energy label. The label will have to use a "classical" A to G scale, but manufacturers capable of delivering models with even higher efficiency can use the "A+" symbol. For refrigerators-freezers, washing machines and dishwashers the energy efficiency ranking was extended up to a class called "A+++", which corresponds to energy savings between 30% to 60% compared to energy efficiency class "A". The update is needed as the current A to G scale energy labels, introduced for the first time in the 90s, succeeded to transform the market so that currently 90% of appliances are in class "A". Further information on the energy label here: m10_696.en

Commission to pay € 13 million to support Ireland in dealing with 2009 flooding disaster

European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, and Irish Permanent Representative to the EU, Rory Montgomery, signed an agreement on Friday to pay € 13.022.500 to Ireland to finance emergency measures incurred after the severe flooding that hit much of Ireland in November 2009. The grant, through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), will reimburse public funds spent on the immediate emergency response, in particular on the restoration of transport infrastructure and protective river engineering in the affected areas.

State aid: Commission authorises extension of Italian real economy scheme

The European Commission authorised under EU state aid rules an extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary Italian scheme to grant aid of up to €500 000 per beneficiary. The beneficiaries must apply for aid no later than 31 December 2010 and the Italian authorities must grant the aid no later than 31 December 2011.The Commission found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 28 May 2009 (see IP/09/852), to be in line with its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis (see IP/10/1636), because it is limited in time, respects the relevant thresholds and applies only to companies that were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008. The extended measure can thus be considered as appropriate to remedy a serious disturbance in the Italian economy and is, as such, compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the EU Treaty.

State aid: Commission authorises prolongation under stricter conditions of Italian temporary subsidised loan scheme

The European Commission authorised under EU state aid rules an extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary Italian scheme for granting loans with subsidised interest rate. The reduced interest rates may be applied for interest payments until 31 December 2013 at the latest. The Commission found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 29 May 2009 (see IP/09/857), to be in line with its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis (see IP/10/1636), because it is limited in time, respects the stricter conditions and does not apply to companies that are in difficulty. The extended measure can thus be considered as appropriate to remedy a serious disturbance in the Italian economy and is, as such, compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the EU Treaty.

State aid: Commission authorises extension of German real economy scheme

The Commission authorised a twelve-month extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary German scheme to grant aid of up to €500 000 per beneficiary. The beneficiaries must apply for aid no later than 31 December 2010 and the German authorities must grant the aid no later than 31 December 2011.The Commission found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 30 December 2008 (see IP/08/2063), to be in line with its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis (see IP/10/1636), because it is limited in time, respects the relevant thresholds and applies only to companies that were not in difficulty on 1 July 2008. The extended measure can thus be considered as appropriate to remedy a serious disturbance in the German economy and is, as such, compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the EU Treaty.

Commission clears creation of joint venture between Europcar and Daimler

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture between the car-rental company Europcar and the German car manufacturer Daimler. The new joint venture Ccar2go Hamburg will offer innovative short term car rental services. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of joint control by Urbaser and PPC of a joint venture in Greece

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Urbaser S.A. ("Urbaser"), of Spain, and Public Power Corporation S.A. ("PPC"), of Greece, of joint control of a joint venture in Greece which will be active in the field of waste recovery and treatment. Urbaser, which is controlled by ACS Group, of Spain, is active in the provision of waste management services. PPC is a vertically integrated energy company, active in mining as well as generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity in Greece. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

La Commission approuve l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de Bars&Co par Groupe Bertrand Restauration et AB Inbev France

La Commission européenne a autorisé conformément au Règlement Concentrations de l'UE l'acquisition par Groupe Bertrand Restauration, contrôlé par Groupe Bertrand et Groupe LVMH, et par AB Inbev France, contrôlé par Anheuser-Bush Inbev, du contrôle conjoint de Bars&Co. L'acquisition du contrôle sera réalisée via BCDF, entreprise commune nouvellement créée. Groupe Bertrand Restauration est spécialisé dans le secteur de la restauration (sandwicheries, cafétérias, restauration rapide). Groupe Bertrand, outre Bertrand Restauration, est présent dans le secteur de la boulangerie et de la distribution de boissons à destination de la cuisine-hôtellerie-restauration. LVMH est l'un des principaux groupes français spécialisés dans l'industrie du luxe (vins, spiritueux, mode, maroquinerie, parfums, joaillerie). Groupe Anheuser-Busch Inbev est actif dans les secteurs de la production et la distribution de bières et boissons non-alcoolisées. Bars&CO gère, actuellement au sein d'Inbev France, les réseaux de franchise de bars brasseries à thème du groupe Anheuser-Busch Inbev sous les enseignes "Au Bureau", "Belgian Beer Café", "Brussel's Café", "Café Leffe" et "Irish Corner" sur le territoire français. La transaction a été examinée selon la procédure simplifiée.

Monthly Labour Market Monitor December 2010

According to the latest European Commission Monthly Labour Market Monitor, released today, the labour market in the EU remained stable in October, with signs of recovery in some Member States. The decline in employment in the EU as a whole stopped, with employment unchanged in the third quarter, following a small increase in the second quarter, while the unemployment rate in the EU has broadly stabilised. Nevertheless, underlying unemployment in the EU increased slightly in October due to a new rise in both male and female unemployment. In contrast, despite a recent increase in unemployment among young women, the labour market for young people in the EU has been generally improving since Autumn 2009. In spite of a faster than envisaged economic recovery, the outlook is still one of a rather jobless recovery and - potentially persistent - high unemployment ahead. Moreover, the need to consolidate the fiscal stance may have some important feedback effects on employment policies and employment in the short term, depending on the fiscal instrument used and the composition of the adjustment. This month's edition also takes a closer look at the labour market situations in Austria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and the Slovak Republic. It also provides a glance at social situation trends concerning in particular the financial situation of households and poverty developments.

EU27 real agricultural income per worker up by 12.3%

EU27 real agricultural income per worker has increased by 12.3% in 2010, following a decrease of 10.7% in 2009, according to first estimates issued by Eurostat. This increase results from a rise in real agricultural income (+9.9%), together with a fall in agricultural labour input (-2.2%). These estimates for the EU27 are based on data supplied by the national authorities in the Member States.

Total weight of goods handled down by 12% in 2009

After growing steadily between 2002 and 2007, the total weight of goods handled in maritime ports in the EU27 remained nearly stable at 3.9 billion tonnes in 2008. It then fell by 12% to 3.4 bn tonnes in 2009 as the result of the economic crisis. As for the sea transport of passengers, the number of passengers embarking or disembarking1 in maritime ports in the EU27 has remained relatively stable at around 410 million since 2003. In 2009 it fell by 2% to 403 mn. These figures are published in a report from Eurostat, on port activity for goods and passengers in the EU3, as well as Iceland, Norway and Croatia.

Rediffusion

EU and US improve transatlantic business climate at high-level economic meeting

The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) has given a significant boost to business between the EU and US by creating a more robust and efficient economic partnership. The TEC which met on Friday in Washington and brought together four European Commissioners and leading US government representatives took the first concrete steps to ensure the TEC process creates a forward-looking business environment that reduces regulatory barriers and encourages innovation, shared standards and high-tech business. The EU and US leaderships agreed at the recent EU-US Summit in Lisbon to make the TEC central to their shared vision for growth and jobs. Participants signed an agreement on common standards of electronic health records and a declaration on energy efficiency. They also kicked off an initiative for electronic cars and related infrastructure and launched a joint website against counterfeiting. The TEC further identified key areas for joint activities in the innovation sector and discussed ways to ensure secure trade and strengthen the customs cooperation between the two partners.

Commission allocates a further € 3 million in humanitarian aid for cyclone-affected Bangladeshi

Today the European Commission set aside an additional € 3 million in humanitarian aid for the communities affected by Cyclone Aila in Bangladesh. With this decision, the Commission's post-cyclone aid for assistance and early recovery in India and Bangladesh reaches € 15 million.

Stratégie numérique: la Commission et le ministère américain de la santé signent un accord sur la santé en ligne

Mme Neelie Kroes, vice-présidente de la Commission européenne, et Mme Kathleen Sebelius, secrétaire américaine à la santé et aux affaires sociales, ont signé aujourd'hui, à Washington, un protocole d'accord en vue de promouvoir une approche commune sur l'interopérabilité des dossiers médicaux électroniques et les programmes de formation pour les professionnels des technologies de l'information et de la santé. Outre leur incidence positive sur la sécurité et la qualité des soins, les normes communes et l'interopérabilité créent des possibilités de croissance importantes pour le secteur de la santé en ligne. Il est nécessaire que le personnel soit formé à l’informatique de santé et ait des compétences en la matière pour que les patients puissent avoir accès aux avantages que présentent les services de santé en ligne. L'accord signé aujourd'hui vise à dynamiser le potentiel de ce marché pour les entreprises de l'UE qui souhaitent exercer des activités aux États-Unis et inversement. Promouvoir l'utilisation des technologies liées à la santé en ligne, en vue d'améliorer la qualité des soins, de réduire les coûts des prestations médicales et de favoriser l'autonomie, notamment dans des endroits isolés, est un objectif essentiel de la stratégie numérique pour l'Europe (voir IP/10/581 , MEMO/10/199 et MEMO/10/200).

Concentrations: la Commission approuve l’acquisition d'Alpha Flight Group par Dnata

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en application du règlement de l’UE sur les concentrations, l’acquisition du contrôle exclusif d’Alpha Flight Group, prestataire de services de restauration à bord des avions, par Dnata, société du groupe Emirates. La Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que l’opération n’entraverait pas de manière significative l’exercice d’une concurrence effective dans l’Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo European Commission proposals to bring legal certainty to couples in cross-border marriages approved by EU ministers

Memo Questions & Answers: new energy labels for televisions, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines

Commissioner Füle congratulates Montenegro for securing candidate status - rediffusion

Statement by President Barroso at the final press conference following the European Council, Brussels – rediffusion

Closing remarks by President Barroso at the Closing Conference European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, Brussels - rediffusion

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