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Daily News – 24.04.2012

EXME 12 / 24.04

Midday Express of 2012-04-24

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Transport: Commission sets out priorities for passenger ship safety

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas, today set out the Commission's priorities for passenger ship safety. The keynote speech was delivered at a major passenger ship safety conference in Brussels, hosted by the Commission, to launch a consultation with stakeholders on the priority actions to come.

Tajani to discuss drivers of growth in Berlin

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani will visit Berlin on Wednesday 25 April and Thursday 26 April. In a series of meetings he will call for support for a common and coordinated approach in industrial policy as well as exchange views on specific industry issues like energy-efficient cars, tourism, smart cities, resource efficiency and measures to boost entrepreneurship. In this context he will be meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss co-operation for improved supply of raw materials under the new Innovation Partnership Agreement (see below). With Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, Dr. Peter Ramsauer, VP Tajani will discuss the progress of the GMES (Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security), the planned reduction of noise levels of passenger cars and electro mobility. With Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Philipp Roessler, VP Tajani will discuss industrial issues and the forthcoming communication on Key Enabling Technologies

Labour costs in the EU27 in 2011 - Hourly labour costs ranged between €3.5 and €39.3 in the EU27 Member States

The average hourly labour costs were estimated to be €23.1 in the EU27 business economy in 2011, and €27.6 in the euro area (EA17). However, this average masks significant differences between Member States, with hourly labour costs ranging from €3.5 to €39.3. Labour costs are made up of costs for wages & salaries, plus non-wage costs such as employer's social contributions. In 2011, the highest hourly labour costs were estimated for Belgium (€39.3), Sweden (€39.1), Denmark (€38.6), France (€34.2), Luxembourg (€33.7), the Netherlands (€31.1) and Germany (€30.1). The lowest hourly labour costs were estimated for Bulgaria (€3.5), Romania (€4.2 in 2010), Lithuania (€5.5) and Latvia (€5.9). While comparing labour cost estimates in euro over time, it should be noted that data for those Member States outside the euro area are influenced by exchange rate movements.

Food Safety: EU harmonises the use of flavouring substances

At a meeting of the Standing Committee (today/yesterday) on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), Member States endorsed a Commission proposal on the establishment of a European Union list of permitted flavouring substances and a transitional measure on other flavourings. While flavourings have a long history of safe use in a wide variety of food, consumers and companies currently face divergent national provisions. These two new pieces of legislation, which will enter into force once the comitology procedure will have concluded, will harmonise and create clear rules for the use of these substances within the single market. This first Regulation establishes a new EU wide list of flavouring substances which can be used in food. It will apply 6 months after its adoption providing sufficient time for the EU food industry to adapt to the new rules. The EU food industry will only be able to use flavouring substances that are published on the EU list. All flavouring substances not in the list will be prohibited after a phasing out period. Transparency will be improved as the list will also be available in an on-line database allowing consumers, food businesses and national food control authorities to easily identify which flavouring substances are authorised in food. The second Regulation concerns transitional measures for other flavourings such as flavourings made from non-food sources which will be evaluated and authorised at later stage. This Regulation will apply immediately after its adoption. The establishment of the European Union list marks a major step in the implementation of framework Regulation (EC) No 1334/2008 on flavourings adopted in December 2008 and is the result of important work carried out by the European Food Safety Authority and other scientific bodies in assessing the safety of around 2800 flavouring substances. For more information on flavourings:

Maria Damanaki at European Seafood Exposition: Driving the Reform forward

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime affairs and Fisheries, will visit the European Seafood Exposition at the Brussels Exhibition Centre, Heysel, on 25 April. During her visit, the Commissioner will participate in the debate "Netgains. How can EU funds support a sustainable seafood supply" with the Alliance for CFP reform. The debate is open to the press. This industry/NGO alliance was formed two years ago at the Seafood Expo to lobby for a real reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Discussions will focus on what industry and policy players can do to ensure stable and sustainable supply of seafood and what benefits consumers can expect from a new Common Fisheries Policy. "The new fisheries policy we have proposed aims at preserving fish stocks at healthy levels for the benefit of current and future generations by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way", said Maria Damanaki. "We now need a strong endorsement by the parliamentarians and governments across the EU to secure a sustainable seafood supply for the future. The strong voice of the Alliance for Common Fisheries Policy Reform will help to push the agenda in the right direction." For more information and registration:

Fisheries: closure of the Mauritania pelagic fishery

The European Commission has decided to close the pelagic fishery by EU vessels in the waters of Mauritania as of today, as the annual EU quota set at 252,654 tonnes is nearly exhausted. The closure concerns pelagic freezer trawlers under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania fishing mainly for pelagic species such as sardine, sardinella and mackerel. The concerned Member States (Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, United Kingdom and Germany) have been informed of this decision, which became effective early on 24 April 2012. The catches by EU vessels have been closely monitored since 1 April, to prevent overfishing. The Member States have been kept regularly informed of the quota evolution. The fisheries partnership agreement between the EU and Mauritania covers the period 1.8.2006 -31.7.2012 with a financial contribution fixed at 86 million €/ for the first year out of which 11 million € was dedicated to the support of the fisheries policy of Mauritania. This fisheries agreement allows EU vessels from 12 EU countries to fish in Mauritanian waters. More details:

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in Slovenia

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn arrives in Slovenia today. During her visit, she will meet with Dr. Žiga Turk, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. She will also hold talks with a number of stakeholders, including the rectors of Slovenia's universities, to discuss the future prospects for Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area. The Commissioner will visit the Jožef Stefan Institute, the leading Slovenian research organisation, where she will meet its Director Dr. Jadran Lenarčic. Finally, she will visit Pipistrel Aircraft, an innovative Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer.

"EU aid delivers results" - Commissioners Georgieva and Piebalgs comment on the OECD Peer Review on EU development and humanitarian aid programmes

“We welcome the Peer Review report of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of the work of the European Union in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. The comprehensive report gives credit to the EU as a major global player in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, based on the size, geographical reach and partnership dimension of its aid programmes. We are pleased to note that it recognises many of the EU’s strengths as well as its achievements since the last Peer Review of 2007, in its dual role of donor and 'federator' of EU Member States' policies and aid programmes. (…)” Text of the full press release:

New EU support for the health sector in Zimbabwe

The European Union decided to support Zimbabwe's Health Transition Fund (HTF). This funding mechanism, which pools contributions from several donors, supports the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in Zimbabwe. The aim is to improve the level of health and quality of life for all Zimbabweans through strengthening health systems and providing more services of high impact in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health. The total amount allocated by the EU to the HTF is €13.5 million. The HTF is managed by UNICEF. A Steering Committee composed of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, donor countries, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA will have an oversight role on the HTF. Full text of the press release:

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "Safety of passenger ships – frequently asked questions"

Memo "Croatia: Commission has adopted the Monitoring Report on accession preparations"

Memo "Commissioner Damanaki in Rabat to launch the process of negotiations for a new EU-Morocco fisheries agreement protocol" - rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso: "The future of the EU – moving forward together"

Speech by Vice President Siim Kallas: "Keeping passenger ships safe in the 21st century – the European Commission's perspective"

Speech by Vice President Siim Kallas: "Working together to reduce deaths on Europe's road"

Speech by Commissioner M. Damanaki: "On seabed mapping" - rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President Kroes at COSAC Conference of national parliaments on Investing in our future in Copenhagen

Discours du Commissaire Barnier au XLVII COSAC (Copenhague): "Marché unique : les défis 20 ans après" - rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President Kroes at structured dialogue with ITRE committee: "The European Commission and Parliament: building the e-EU together" - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Karel De Gucht on EU – Latin America/ Caribbean Trade:"A Partnership for the Future"