EXME 12 / 28.06
Midday Express of 2012-06-28
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The two-year transition period for the organic food sector to comply with new EU labelling rules is reaching its end. As from 1 July 2012, the EU organic logo will be obligatory on all pre-packaged organic food products produced in EU Member States which meet the necessary standards. The logo will stay optional for non-packed and imported organic products. Other private, regional or national logos will continue to be allowed to appear alongside the EU label.
From 1 July 2012, using mobile internet to access maps, videos, photos, social networks and email will be much cheaper while travelling in other EU member states. A new EU regulation means that, for the first time, there will be a maximum charge for "data roaming" - downloading data from the internet when using a mobile connection. The data roaming rules will mean savings of over €1000 per year for a typical businessperson travelling in the EU. A family taking an annual holiday in another EU country can expect to save at least €200. (Full details of these data roaming case studies are in Annex II). The new rules will also cut the maximum prices for voice calls and texts.
The European Commission has approved 20 programmes to promote agricultural products in the European Union and in third countries. The total budget of the programmes, which will run for a period of three years, is € 70.7 million of which the EU will contribute € 35.9 million. The selected programmes cover fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, milk and milk products, PDOs (Protected Designations of Origin), PGIs (Protected Geographical Indications) and TSGs (Traditional Specialities Guaranteed), seed oil, wine and meat.
In June 2012, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.15 points to 0.94. The decline was mainly driven by a more negative assessment of production expectations, past production, overall order books and export order books. Managers' assessment of their stocks of finished products remained broadly unchanged.
The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) remained unchanged, at 90.4, in June in the EU and decreased by 0.6 points in the euro area, to 89.9. Falling confidence in industry, services and, to a lesser extent, among consumers was counterbalanced or mitigated by increasing confidence in retail trade and construction. Among the largest Member States, sentiment worsened in France (-1.5), Germany (-1.4), Poland (-1.3) and, to some extent, the Netherlands (-0.3). By contrast, sentiment improved in the UK (+1.9), Spain (+1.0) and Italy (+0.9). The ESI is above its long-term average only in Germany.
New EU social security rules come into force today to simplify access to social security for air hostesses, stewards and pilots and to improve access to unemployment benefit for self-employed frontier workers. "The new rules clarify and improve the social protection of aircrew and cross-border self-employed workers", commented Lászlo Andór, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
In 2011, EU27 residents made 1.2 billion trips for both leisure and business. After a significant increase between 2006 and 2008, the number of trips has since remained almost stable, with a minor decline in 2010, followed by a slight upward trend in 2011. It should be noted that these figures refer to the trips made by EU residents, whether in their own country, to another EU Member State or elsewhere in the world. They do not include trips made by non EU residents to the EU. Examining holiday and business trips separately, business trips were more affected by the financial crisis than holiday trips. As for total trips, holiday trips made by EU27 residents rose strongly between 2006 and 2008 and then remained nearly stable between 2008 and 2011. In contrast, trips for professional reasons, which accounted for 14% of total trips, registered a continuous decline of 11% by 2011 from the peak of 2008.
EU Strategy on Health and Safety at Work – Where We Stand and Future Priorities
"Investing in occupational health and safety contributes to company performance, improves staff wel-being, reduces absenteeism and staff turnover and brings greater job satisfaction". Occupational health and safety is therefore a major contributor to competitiveness "contributing significantly to achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy - in other words, helping to foster smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and in particular to raise the employment rate from the current 69% to at least 75%." This is the overall key message from European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor to the Danish Presidency Conference on Health and Safety at Work in Copenhagen today. He will give an overview of the EU Strategy on Health and Safety at Work 2007-2012 and potential future policy action priorities. The Commission is due to present by November 2012 the final results of the evaluation of the current Strategy and, depending on its results, a new strategy on health and safety at work for adoption in 2013. Andor will encourage Member States to improve their implementation of EU rules on occupational safety and health to make working life sustainable by making workplaces suitable for an ageing workforce. SPEECH/12/506 available on Rapid at 13h
Statement by Commissioner László Andor on the adoption of Italy's labour market reform
"I congratulate Italian Labour Minister Elsa Fornero and the rest of the Italian Government for the completion of the Italian labour market reform, which was finally adopted by the Italian Parliament yesterday" stated László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and inclusion. "This is a major achievement of great importance not only to Italy but also for the European Union as a whole. By achieving a more dynamic and inclusive labour market, this very timely reform will open up opportunities for young people and women, and help the Italian economy to improve its performance significantly. To deliver this reform, and to ensure it included the right elements, Minister Fornero invested time and energy in negotiations with Parliament and the social partners, which is the essence of the European way. I very much trust that this act, together with the earlier pension reform of the Monti Government, will contribute to a sustainable and job-rich recovery, a fairer society, and more robust economic growth in the long-run."
Commission clears acquisition by Audi of Ducati
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition by Audi AG ("Audi") of Germany, of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. ("Ducati") of Italy. Audi is active in the design, manufacture, supply and distribution of cars and manufacture and supply of spare parts for cars. Ducati is active in the design, manufacturing, distribution and sale of motorbikes as well as supply of spare parts and accessories. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The European Union today requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China's export restrictions on rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. This follows EU efforts to find a solution with China, including through formal WTO consultations that were held in April. The EU, together with its partners in the case - the United States and Japan, will therefore proceed to the next step in WTO litigation in order to seek compliance by China with its international obligations.
The EU and South Korea mark the one year anniversary of the implementation of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement on 1 July 2012. The agreement is the first of a new generation of free trade agreements that went further than ever before at lifting trade barriers and making it easier for European and Korean companies to do business together. As the FTA has lowered import tariffs for European products at the Korean border, it's estimated that EU firms have already made cash savings of €350 million in duties after just 9 months.
Autre matériel diffusé :
Memo "Easier access to EU funds for our businesses, towns and regions and scientists! - Highlights of Commissioner Lewandowski's statement on the new financial regulation and the implementation of budget 2012" – rediffusion