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Daily News – 22.04.2013

EXME 13 / 22.04

Midday Express of 2013-04-22

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Antitrust: Commission sends statement of objections to suspected participants in smart card chips cartel

The European Commission has informed a number of suppliers of smart card chips of its preliminary view that they may have participated in a cartel, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

EU and Morocco start negotiations for closer trade ties

The EU and Morocco today started the first round of negotiations for an EU-Morocco Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), after European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane officially launched the negotiations on 1 March 2013 in Rabat.

Commissioner Damanaki at Seafood Expo 2013: Improving Market Transparency and Promoting a Balanced Diet

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will attend the annual Brussels Seafood Exhibition on 24 April. After visiting several Member States' national stands, Commissioner Damanaki will launch the new online European Market Observatory for Fishery and Aquaculture Products (13h40). This new product, developed by the European Commission to foster market transparency and economic democracy, is a user-friendly and multilingual platform offering comprehensive data on fish and seafood production for each area of Europe and through every step of the supply chain, as well as on imports, exports and consumption trends. Having timely information on prices and market trends will enable producers to better meet demand, thus increasing the market value of their produce.

Provision of deficit and debt data for 2012 - first notification - Euro area and EU27 government deficit at 3.7% and 4.0% of GDP respectively - Government debt at 90.6% and 85.3%

In 2012, the government deficit of both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 decreased in absolute terms compared with 2011, while the government debt1 rose in both zones. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 4.2% in 2011 to 3.7% in 2012, and in the EU27 from 4.4% to 4.0%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 87.3% at the end of 2011 to 90.6% at the end of 2012, and in the EU27 from 82.5% to 85.3%.

ECB and Commission examine the impact of financial sector reforms

On April 25th, the annual conference on financial stability and integration will take place in Brussels. It will examine the impact of ongoing financial sector reform. The conference is jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. It will bring together political leaders, supervisory authorities, and members from academia, industry and consumer organisations to share their views on the current situation regarding EU financial integration and stability. The main topics covered will be bank structural reform, EU financial market integration, together with a general reflection of their importance for the real economy. Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, as well as Vítor Constâncio, Vice President of the European Central Bank will deliver the keynote speeches. A technical briefing on the European Financial Stability and Integration report, which will be published on the day of the conference, will be available for journalist (press register in advance - contact point: Nathalie Minsart). To find out more about the programme and register, see:

€1.8 billion invested in smart grids projects in Europe

Further to the 2011 report "Smart Grid projects in Europe: lessons learned and current developments", the European Commission is publishing today the 2012 update of the most comprehensive inventory of smart grid and smart metering initiatives across the European Union, Croatia, Switzerland and Norway. The current release of the inventory focuses specifically on the smart grid research, development and demonstration projects. The recent developments and lessons learned from smart metering activities in Europe will be discussed in a dedicated report to be issued by the European Commission still in 2013. In the 2012 update, 281 smart grid projects were identified, accounting for a total investment of €1.8 billion. Project budgets of over €20 million have been growing steadily from 27% in 2006 to 61% in 2012. The UK, Germany, France and Italy are the leading investors in demonstration projects, while Denmark is most actively involved in R&D. EU-15 organisations are managing the bulk of investment and are also tightly cooperating in multinational projects, of these, 95% are supported by EC funding. Together with national and regulatory funding, they provide 55% of the total budget for the smart grid projects surveyed; the remaining 45% comes from private capital. Utility and energy companies are most involved in smart grid projects, followed by universities and research centres, manufacturers, IT and telecoms businesses, and transmission system operators. The projects mainly targeted the following applications: control systems to improve the observability (e.g. smart meters to collect and store, on demand and in real time, data for consumers) and the controllability (e.g. frequency and power flow control) of the networks; distributed ICT architectures for coordinating distributed energy resources (e.g. wind farms, photovoltaic plants and cogeneration units) and balancing demand and supply in a flexible way; charging and communication infrastructure works for electric vehicles; and use of storage as an additional source of grid flexibility. The main barriers for smart grid projects are a lack of interoperability and standards, regulatory barriers and consumer resistance to participating in trials. More information, highlights, infographics and the full catalogue with detailed analyses can be accessed at .

Commissioner Andor: Roma integration can make key contribution to competitiveness

"Improving the situation of Roma people is one of the biggest social challenges facing Europe today. If their integration failed anywhere in the Union, the European society as a whole would lose cohesion and integrity", said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the International Conference on Roma inclusion, in Bucharest on 22 April 2013. Recalling that one in three Roma in Europe is unemployed, one in five has no health insurance, and nine out of ten are below the national poverty line, Andor continued: "It is clear that the main road out of poverty is to have a job. Our key challenge therefore is to get more Roma people into the labour market. It is not only crucial for improving the living standards of the Roma. It is also a key contribution to our competitiveness". Andor concluded: "Integrating Roma should be viewed not as a cost, but as a social investment, in human capital in particular, and will be crucial to meeting the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth". See SPEECH/13/347

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Bergamotto and Vima Due by Bridgepoint and Orlando

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Bergamotto. and Vima Due by Bridgepoint Advisers Group Limited and Orlando Italy Management S.A. through Limoni. Bergamotto and Vima Due, previously solely controlled by Bridgepoint, are active in the retail distribution of perfumes and cosmetic products in Italy. Bridgepoint (based in the UK) and Orlando (based in Luxembourg) are private equity funds. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under case number M.6892 .

Autre matériel diffusé :

Speech by President Barroso at the Brussels Think Tank Dialogue

Statement by President Barroso on the agreement in the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo - rediffusion

Message of congratulations from President Barroso to the new President of the Italian Republic - rediffusion

Message of condolences by President Barroso to the government and people of China - rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President Reding: "Safeguarding the rule of law and solving the 'Copenhagen dilemma': Towards a new EU-mechanism"

Statement by President Barroso on the agreement in the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo – rediffusion

(for more information: MEMO/13/353 - Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen – Tel. +32 498/953 070 – Mobile +32 2 295 30 70; Leonor Ribeiro Da Silva - Tel. +32 498/981 669 – Mobile +32 2 298 81 55; Alejandro Ulzurrun – Tel. +32 498/954 867 – Mobile +32 2 295 48 67)

Speech by Commissioner L. Andor: "Roma integration can make key contribution to competitiveness"

Speech by Commissioner Karel De Gucht: "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Global Impacts" – rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President O. Rehn: "Speaking Points by Vice-President Rehn at the EC-ECB Press Conference in Washington DC – rediffusion