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Daily News – 21.10.2010

EXME 10 / 21.10

Midday Express of 2010-10-21

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

ECHO zooms in on policy priorities with humanitarian partners

New strategies for improving the targetting and delivery of EU humanitarian aid, and the challenges faced by humanitarians – these are the topics for today's meeting between the Eurtoppean Commission and its humanitarian partners. Like every year, the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) has invited its partners to discuss humanitarian policy priorities.

Fight against illegal timber exports: the European Union and the Democratic Republic of Congo launch negotiations – Embargo 14h00 CET

Today, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, José Bononge Endundo -Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism- of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Charles Michel, on behalf of the EU Belgian Presidency, signed a declaration to launch the negotiations for a voluntary partnership agreement on the export of legal timber to the EU, named Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade agreement (FLEGT). This is the first step in the negotiation process, which is expected to be finalised by mid-2013. The objective of this agreement is to ensure that wood products from the DRC will carry a license showing that they contain timber and wood products from a legal origin.

Commission makes a €0.2 billion disbursement as part of the Balance of Payments support to Latvia

The EU disbursed today the fourth instalment of the €3.1 billion EU loan to Latvia, which was agreed in January 2009 as part of a €7.5 billion multilateral financial assistance package. This follows a positive assessment by the European Commission of the implementation by the authorities of the economic conditions attached to this disbursement.

Digital Agenda: Commission endorses general model of Italian regulator to calculate wholesale access prices; asks it to recalculate maintenance and commercial costs

In a letter sent to the Italian telecoms regulator (AGCOM), the European Commission agrees with AGCOM`s general approach to base wholesale prices for access to Telecom Italia`s network on a costing model which mimics costs incurred by an efficient operator managing a newly built copper network in a competitive market - i.e. Bottom Up Long Run Incremental Costs, BU-LRIC. However, the Commission has expressed its concerns that AGCOM has not consistently applied this model to calculate the prices which alternative operators would be charged for accessing Telecom Italia's network. AGCOM plans to increase certain access prices, in particular for local loop unbundling (LLU) services. In the Commission's view the prices proposed by AGCOM do not sufficiently reflect the maintenance and commercial costs of an efficient operator managing a newly-built copper network. This creates a risk that alternative operators would have to pay prices higher than those which they should normally pay for high quality access to a modern network. The Commission requests AGCOM to re-examine its cost calculation using data of an efficient company managing a newly-built copper network. The resulting prices would give the correct investment signals to both access-seeker and access-provider and ensure that consumers pay fair prices for high-speed Internet access. AGCOM is required under EU telecoms rules to “take utmost account” of the Commission’s comments.

La Commission présente une feuille de route pour une surveillance maritime plus efficace et plus efficiente

La Commission européenne a présenté aujourd’hui des mesures concrètes pour améliorer l’efficacité et l’efficience de la surveillance des mers européennes. Dans une feuille de route, la Commission expose comment relier entre elles les autorités des États membres compétentes dans les différents secteurs maritimes en vue de l’échange de données relatives à la surveillance maritime. Sont notamment visés les garde-côtes, les autorités chargées de la surveillance du trafic, de la surveillance de l’environnement, de la prévention de la pollution, du contrôle des pêches, et du contrôle des frontières, les autorités fiscales, les services chargés de l’application générale de la loi et les forces navales. Cette coopération renforcée permettra également de réagir plus efficacement et en temps réel aux événements se produisant en mer. La «feuille de route sur la mise en place de l'environnement commun de partage de l'information [CISE] aux fins de la surveillance du domaine maritime de l'UE» est une initiative prise dans le cadre de la stratégie maritime intégrée de l’UE, qui recommande une approche intégrée de la gestion et de la gouvernance des océans, des mers et des côtes et encourage les interactions entre toutes les politiques de l’UE liées à la mer.

Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: registration now open for last stakeholder conference before Commission starts drawing up proposals

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki will host a one-day conference entitled "Another Future for Fisheries", which will officially close the consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, before the Commission starts drawing up concrete proposals for the new policy. It will take an unusual format in that the key note speakers will not be the customary interested parties or politicians, but rather people who, by working in the fisheries sector, have come up with remarkably effective and ground-breaking projects. "Our industry often contains unsuspected centres of excellence, with smart, hard-working men and women who find original solutions to the sector's problems. We need to look at those practical solutions to find inspiration for a greener, simpler and more effective CFP, which should be shaped around the people it affects", says Commissioner Damanaki. Short introductory speeches by Ms Damanaki, her counterpart for Research and Innovation Ms Màire Geoghegan-Quinn and Environment Commissioner Mr Janez Potocnik will be followed by presentations and debate on a number of success stories which virtually cover all aspects of the reform - from conservation, aquaculture and discards to the role of women and consumers - and which, whether carried out with private or public money, have one thing in common: they mark undisputed progress in the fisheries sector and could forge new approaches for the future policy. The conference, which will take place on 16 November, is organised by the Commission and is open to participants from the fishing industry or from administrations, to scientists, researchers, conservation organisations, NGOs and the press. It will take place from 09h30 to 17h30 in the Charlemagne building (room de Gasperi), rue de la Loi 170, Brussels. Though the event is public, pre-registration is required. To attend the seminar, please go to or

European Commission allocates € 10 million for Sahrawi refugees in Algeria

Yesterday the European Commission allocated € 10 million to provide humanitarian and food aid to vulnerable Sahrawi refugees living in the refugee camps in south-west Algeria. This funding will be used to provide a regular and varied food supply. It will also contribute to improving their humanitarian situation by ensuring adequate access to basic services and the provision of essential relief such as healthcare, clean water and proper sanitation, tents and logistical assistance. .

L'Union européenne soutient la conservation et la valorisation des écosystèmes fragilisés et la paix et la sécurité en Afrique centrale

La Commission européenne a approuvé aujourd'hui deux projets régionaux en faveur de l'Afrique centrale pour un montant total de 41.92 millions d'euros: un projet de conservation et de valorisation des écosystèmes fragilisés d'Afrique centrale (30 millions d'euros) et un projet en matière de paix et de sécurité (11.92 millions d'euros). Ces projets seront mis en œuvre en partenariat avec la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique Centrale (CEEAC) dont sont membres l'Angola, le Burundi, le Cameroun, la République Centrafricaine, le Congo, la République démocratique du Congo, le Gabon, la Guinée équatoriale, Sao Tomé et Principe et le Tchad.

Commission approves €138 million for health, development aid management and human resource development in South Africa

The European Commission approved €138 million to be provided to the Government of South Africa to improve health, Offical Develpopment Assistance management and high-level human resource development. The main programme adopted today is a sector policy budget support operation of €126 million aiming at improving access to better quality primary health care particularly for the poorest South Africans. EU support in South Africa targets amongst others social service delivery, governance and private sector development. Emphasis is placed on innovative approaches, best practices, risk-taking, pilot programmes, systems development, capacity building and above all, skills and knowledge transfers. Improving service delivery by means of innovative delivery mechanisms and capacity building is especially important at local level.

Mauritius receives € 5.5 million to support Non-State Actors

Today, the European Union adopted a financing decision worth € 5.5 million to support the second phase of a Decentralised Cooperation Programme aiming at enhancing capacity of non-state actors in alleviating poverty. Through this programme, the EU contributes to enhance the capacity of Non State Actors (NSAs) in implementing community-need actions in their fight against poverty. Among others, actions will seek to create economic opportunities for the socially vulnerable groups, increase access to education for children from deprived areas and improve the welfare of women who constitute the most socially disadvantaged groups. Such support is mainly geared towards broadening the circle of opportunities of vulnerable groups in areas like employment, entrepreneurship, health and education.

Commission to announce European Green Capital winners for 2012 and 2013 at ceremony in Stockholm

The cities that will hold the title of European Green Capital in 2012 and 2013 will be revealed by EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik at a ceremony in Stockholm tonight. The annual European Green Capital award is a new initiative that singles out a city in the vanguard of environmentally friendly urban living. Stockholm and Hamburg were the first cities to win the title; Stockholm for 2010 and Hamburg for 2011. Some 17 cities applied for the 2012 and 2013 titles. Six finalists were shortlisted: Barcelona, Malmö, Nantes, Nuremberg, Reykjavík and Vitoria-Gasteiz. Cities are judged on their environmental record, commitment to further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and the extent to which they can act as a role model to inspire other cities. The awards ceremony will be held at Stockholm City Hall. The event is taking place during the first European Green Capital Conference. Further details:

State aid: Commission approves prolongation of the Italian recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a prolongation until 31 December 2010 of the Italian recapitalisation scheme for credit institutions. The Commission found the prolongation of the measures, initially approved on 23 December 2008 (see IP/08/2059), modified on 20 February 2009 (see IP/09/302) and extended on 6 October 2009 (see EXME09) to be in line with its guidance on support measures for banks during the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901). In particular, the extended measures are appropriate, necessary and proportionate. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Italian economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the EU Treaty.

Commission clears joint venture by DocMorris and K-Mail Order

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture between DocMorris N.V. and K-Mail Order GmbH & Co KG. The joint venture will operate an internet and mail order pharmacy, with activities mainly in Germany. DocMorris is a Dutch internet pharmacy with sales activities mainly in Germany. K-mail Order is a mail order and internet retailer for fashion, household goods and jewellery in Germany. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.


Commission and Parliament sign revised Framework Agreement

Today in Strasbourg, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek signed the revised Framework Agreement governing working relations between the two institutions. The signature brings to a successful conclusion a process that started almost one year ago with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The revised FA adapts the existing accord from 2005 to the new Treaty framework. Both Presidents expressed confidence that it will deepen the relations between the two institutions and offer practical solutions in line with the increased competences of Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty. Important elements of the agreement have been implemented already, even before it comes into force, including progress on preparing the Commission's work programme for 2011.

New Aviation Platform to address challenges for the European aviation sector

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for of transport, today met top-level representatives of the European aviation sector to discuss future challenges for aviation in Europe at the first-ever meeting of the Aviation Platform. The Aviation Platform has been set up to give strategic advice to the Vice President in order to establish the basis for a sustainable future for air transport and a competitive future for the European aviation industry.

La Commission salue l’approbation, par le Parlement européen, des nouvelles règles contre le retard de paiement

Le vice président de la Commission européenne Antonio Tajani salue l’adoption aujourd’hui, par le Parlement européen, de la nouvelle directive concernant la lutte contre le retard de paiement dans les transactions commerciales. La directive assurera une meilleure protection des créanciers, pour la plupart des PME, tout en respectant la liberté contractuelle. Les pouvoirs publics devront acquitter leurs factures dans les 30 jours, sans quoi ils seront redevables d’intérêts pour retard de paiement, d’un taux de 8 %. Cette mesure devrait générer 180 milliards d’euros de liquidités supplémentaires pour les entreprises.

La valeur de la nature: un rapport inédit révèle l'importance fondamentale de la biodiversité dans l'économie

Le rapport final d'un projet d'étude de trois ans examinant les bénéfices que la planète obtient gratuitement de la nature a été publié. L'étude consacrée à l'économie des écosystèmes et de la biodiversité (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – TEEB) a sélectionné parmi les données économiques disponibles celles qui montrent de manière éclatante que les coûts liés à la dégradation des écosystèmes et la perte de la biodiversité sont réellement exorbitants pour nos sociétés. Ce projet fait la synthèse de milliers d'études et examine des méthodes d'évaluation, des instruments d'action et des exemples de mesures prises de par le monde. Se référant à de nombreuses études de cas, le rapport se conclut par dix recommandations visant à aider les citoyens et les responsables politiques à intégrer la biodiversité comme paramètre dans leurs décisions quotidiennes. La Commission européenne est l'un des principaux bailleurs de fonds de l'étude, qui a été entreprise sous l'égide du programme des Nations unies pour l'environnement.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo ECHO and its humanitarian partners

Memo Frequently asked questions on illegal logging - Embargo 14h00 CET

Memo on Paid Maternity Leave: European Commission to work on balanced compromise to advance mothers’ rights, following European Parliament vote – en rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President Almunia 'Competition Policy: State of Play and Future Outlook', Brussels

Speech by Vice-President Reding 'The imperative of Roma integration: More than just a "summer story"', Council of Europe High-Level Meeting on Roma and Travellers, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Statement on Ukraine by HR/VP Ashton and Commissioner Füle in the European Parliament, Strasbourg – en rediffusion

Remarks by HRVP Ashton after the adoption of the final legal acts for the EAS in the European Parliament, Strasbourg – en rediffusion