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EXME 12 / 23.03
Midday Express of 2012-03-23
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
If adopted as a new own resource of the EU budget the financial transaction tax (FTT) will significantly reduce the contributions of member states to the EU budget. According to estimates presented yesterday by the European Commission, Member States' contributions would be slashed by €54bn in 2020. The Commission proposes that two thirds of the revenues of the FTT go to the EU budget, reducing by the same amounts Member States' contributions based on their GNI, with the remaining one third being retained by Member States. Therefore, every euro levied with the FTT will ultimately benefit the Member States, whether through direct revenue collection or through a reduction of contributions to the EU budget.
The European Commission today proposed new rules to ensure that European ships are only recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound. More than 1000 large old commercial ships, such as tankers and container vessels, are recycled for their scrap metal every year, but many European ships end up in substandard facilities on the tidal beaches of South Asia. These facilities mostly lack the environmental protection and safety measures needed to manage the hazardous materials contained in end-of-life ships. These include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and oil sludge. This leads to high accident rates and health risks for workers and extensive environmental pollution.
The European Commission has today released a Communication on the first of its Macro-Regional Strategies, the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region ( EUSBSR), setting out how it proposes to take co operation between the participating states up a gear. The aim of the Strategy is to increase the impact of EU funds to reach common goals, such as the improvement of water quality in the entire region. The Communication sets three new focuses for co operation: "Save the Sea", "Connect the Region" and "Increase Prosperity". Under these objectives it sets strategy-wide targets and indicators, and proposes that in each sector, further targets should be set. In addition, the Communication sets out how all those involved can improve their joint efforts by doing more to align their policy decisions, and the available funds. It also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of all those involved, to put the Strategy on a firm footing to prepare the 2014-2020 programming period.
The European Climate Adaptation Platform (CLIMATE-ADAPT), an interactive web-based tool on adaptation to climate changes, goes online today at the European Environment Agency (EEA) in Copenhagen. Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, joined Ida Auken, Denmark's Minister for the Environment, and the EEA's Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade for the launch.
In 2011, there were 301 000 asylum applicants registered in the EU27. It is estimated that around 90% of these were new applicants and around 10% were repeat applicants. In 2010, there were 259 000 asylum applicants. In 2011, the main countries of citizenship of these applicants were Afghanistan (28 000 or 9% of the total number of applicants), Russia (18 200 or 6%), Pakistan (15 700 or 5%), Iraq (15 200 or 5%) and Serbia (13 900 or 5%).
Commissioner Šemeta receives prize for green taxation initiatives
Today Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, will receive the Adam-Smith prize in Germany (Berlin) for significant contribution in the field of environmental economic policy. The prize will be awarded largely on the basis of the Commission's proposal last year to revise EU rules on energy taxation (see IP/11/468). The new rules aim to restructure how energy products are taxed, to reflect their CO2 emissions and energy content. This will help to promote more environmentally friendly behaviour and greater energy efficiency. Green energy taxation is also part of the Commission's efforts to encourage green innovation which in turn will help to create new industries, jobs and growth in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy. The proposal to revise the Energy Tax Directive is currently being discussed in the Council, with a view to reaching a decision before the end of the Danish Presidency.
Borderless Innovation – Commissioner to give keynote speech in the Hague
European Research, Innovation and Science Commisssioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn will on Monday deliver the keynote speech at the annual Innovation Lecture of the Netherlands' Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The theme of this year's lecture is "Borderless Innovation" and comes as the Commission is drawing up proposals to complete the European Research Area. During her visit, the Commissioner will also meet with Minister Maxime Verhagen, and will hold an informal exchange of views with representatives of some of the Netherlands most innovative industrial and service sectors.
Transport: Commission proposes EU rules to enforce the social partners' agreement on the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC)
The European Commission has adopted two proposals to bring the European Union legislation in line with the enforcements and compliance rules foreseen by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The purpose of the proposals is to clarify the responsibilities of flag states and port states with regard to an effective application of the maritime labour standards on board ships, regardless of their flags, calling at ports in the EU. The proposal on the responsibilities of flag states aims at strengthening the role of the flag state regarding the social aspects by requiring appropriate checks and monitoring mechanisms to be established in Member States, as well as effective inspections to ensure that the Directive on the MLC ( 2009/13/EC) is fully enforced. The proposal on port state control amends the Directive 2009/16/EC by incorporating the requirements established by the MLC, namely the obligation for ships of 500 GT and above to carry a maritime labour certificate and a declaration of maritime labour compliance attesting compliance with the MLC.
Merger: Commission clears creation of a new joint venture between STE and UTC
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Singapore Technologies Engineering and United Technologies Corporation of USA, of indirect joint control over a newly created joint venture that will carry out the EcoPower business aircraft engine washing business presently conducted by UTC. STE is an integrated engineering group providing services in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors. UTC provides high-technology products and services for the buildings system and aerospace industries. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of joint control of AMEOS by Carlyle, Dr. Axel Paeger and Quadriga Capital IV
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Carlyle, Dr. Axel Paeger and Quadriga Capital IV of joint control of AMEOS Holding AG and AMEOS AG of Switzerland. AMEOS operates acute general and acute psychiatric hospitals as well as long-term elderly care and long-term mental care facilities in Germany and in Austria. Carlyle is a US alternative asset manager, especially managing pension funds' sponsored assets. Dr. Axel Paeger is a natural person, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of AMEOS. Quadriga Capital IV is a Jersey investment vehicle sponsored by pension funds and other institutional investors. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commissioner Damanaki to host conference on Maritime Spatial Planning
On 26 March in Brussels, Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will host an international conference on how maritime spatial planning can contribute to boosting growth. The conference, "The case for Maritime Spatial Planning: efficient resource management for sustainable growth", will be attended by ministers, national authorities, industry representatives and NGOs. Maritime Spatial Planning, as promoted in the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, is a key tool for creating an environment in which the maritime economy can grow in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. Transparency, stability, predictability and reduced transaction costs are the factors that encourage and accelerate investments – and are among the benefits that Maritime Spatial Planning can bring. The Maritime Economy is a motor for growth in Europe. The conference will discuss best practice examples from within the EU and around the world and discuss the challenges for Maritime Spatial Planning in the European context. Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: " Maritime Spatial Planning is a key tool for combining the sustainable use of marine natural resources with maritime economic activities to create further growth in maritime and coastal economies." A press point with Commissioner Damanaki is planned for 10h40 (Charlemagne building). More information:
Food safety: EU updates measures on imports from Japan
At a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), Member States' experts today endorsed a Commission proposal to align the maximum levels of caesium-134 and caesium-137 with the new Japanese maximum levels which will apply from 1 April 2012. Measures on reinforced controls that were originally adopted on 24 March 2011 to control imports of food and feed coming from certain regions (today 11 prefectures: Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba) that could be affected by the Fukushima nuclear incident, will also continue to apply until 31 October 2012 and will continue to be regularly reviewed. Continuing reinforced controls means that all food and feed products coming from these regions must be tested and certified as being within safety levels for the presence of caesium-134 and caesium-137 before leaving Japan as well as being subject to random testing upon arrival in the EU. Feed and food products from the remaining 36 Japanese regions (prefectures) do not need to be tested but must be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin, and also remain subject to random testing at the point of entry into the EU. Applying the same maximum levels in the EU and Japan will continue to provide consistency between the pre-export controls performed by the Japanese authorities and the controls on the level of radionuclides performed on feed and food originating from Japan at the point of entry into the EU. Sake, whiskey and shochu will be excluded from the scope of these new measures, since the tests that were carried out by the Japanese authorities detected no radioactivity (these findings were confirmed by controls carried out at point of import). The Commission underlines that food safety risks from the nuclear accident in Japan are considerably low in the EU. EU imports from Japan in 2011 represented 1.9% of the total EU agri-food imports. For more information: IP/11/362 , MEMO/11/225
In March 2012, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator continued to improve in both the EU (up to -19.1 from -20.1 in February 2012) and the euro area (up to -19.0 from -20.3 in February 2012). Computation of Flash CCI. To compute the flash consumer confidence indicator for the EU and euro area, DG ECFIN uses the data available on the cut-off date. The estimation procedure combines historical data with information from those Member States for which data are available in the reference month. Experience has shown this procedure to be statistically reliable.
Israel and the European Union have finalized negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement during a final round of negotiating in Tel Aviv on 22 March 2012. The agreement will gradually open up and integrate the respective markets, strengthen cooperation and offer new opportunities for industry, including airlines, and consumers. Following eight rounds of negotiations since December 2008, the two sides have agreed to develop a common aviation area between Israel and the EU based on common rules. It is expected that the agreement will offer more travel opportunities, more direct connections and economic benefits for both sides.
Transport ministers today reached agreement on proposals to transform the existing patchwork of roads, railways, airports and canals into a unified European transport network. The proposed Regulation for Guidelines for Trans-European Networks (TEN-T) will remove cross-border bottlenecks, upgrade infrastructure and streamline cross-border transport operations for passengers and businesses throughout the EU.
Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President with responsibility for transport, today welcomed Member States support for the Commission's proposal on the revision of current EU rules on groundhandling services.
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