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Daily News – 28.11.2013

EXME 13 / 28.11


28 / 11 / 13

Eastern Partnership Summit

Today, President Barroso will travel to Vilnius for the third Eastern Partnership Summit. The Summit brings together heads of state and government from the 28 EU member states with those of the Eastern Partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

The Eastern Partnership Summit will begin on Thursday 28 November with a summit meeting and an informal working dinner. President Barroso and President Van Rompuy will also hold a separate trilateral meeting with Viktor Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, ahead of the dinner. The Summit will continue on Friday 29 November with a formal signing ceremony, followed by a plenary session. After the Summit, Presidents Dalia Grybauskaite, Herman van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso will give a short press conference.

This is an important Summit in the history of the Eastern Partnership. It is expected that Moldova and Georgia will initial an Association Agreement with the EU, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Other deliverables are expected to include the signing of a Visa Facilitation Agreement with Azerbaijan and the initialling of the Common Aviation Area Agreement with Ukraine.

Commission proposes rules to help protect against the theft of confidential business information

The European Commission has today proposed new rules on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. The draft directive introduces a common definition of trade secrets, as well as means through which victims of trade secret misappropriation can obtain redress. It will make it easier for national courts to deal with the misappropriation of confidential business information, to remove the trade secret infringing products from the market and make it easier for victims to receive damages for illegal actions.

Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: "Cybercrime and industrial espionage are unfortunately part of the reality that businesses in Europe face every day. We have to make sure our laws move with the times and that the strategic assets of our companies are adequately protected against theft and misuse… "

Vice-President Antonio Tajani added: "Protecting trade secrets is particularly important for the EU's smaller, less established firms. They employ trade secrecy more intensively than larger companies - in part because of the cost of patenting and protection against infringement. …".

See also MEMO/13/1061.

Other news

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Ribena and Lucozade soft drinks business by Suntory of Japan.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline's Ribena and Lucozade soft drinks business of the UK ("the target") by Suntory Beverage & Food Limited of Japan. The target produces, distributes and sells energy and sports drinks under the Lucozade brand and a number of soft drinks (non-carbonated juice, still drinks, dilutes and carbonated flavoured drinks) under the Ribena brand, mainly in the UK and Ireland. Suntory is active worldwide in many sectors, such as food and non-alcoholic beverages, restaurants, sports and flowers. Suntory is active in the soft drinks sector in the European Economic Area (EEA) mainly through its subsidiary Orangina Schweppes Group. It has a number of brands such as Orangina, Oasis, Trina, Sunny Delight, Snapple and V Energy. The parties' activities overlap in the markets for branded non-cola-flavoured carbonated soft drinks and in particular branded carbonated energy drinks sold to retailers in the UK and Ireland. The Commission's investigation found that the overlaps were very limited and that a number of strong players would remain in the market. The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information will be available on the competition website, in the Commission's public case register under the case number M.7057

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Rhiag Auto Pats Italia LLP by Apax Partners LLP

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over Rhiag-Inter Auto Parts Italia S.p.A. of Italy, by funds advised by Apax Partner LLP of the United Kingdom.  Rhiag is active in the wholesale trade of non-branded motor vehicles spare parts for maintenance and repair. Rhiag is active mainly in Italy but also in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Ukraine. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because none of Apax' portfolio companies is active in the market for the wholesale trade of non-branded motor vehicles spare parts for maintenance and repair. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7076 .  

Business Climate Indicator increases further in November

In November 2013, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area rose for the seventh successive month, turning positive for the first time since March 2012. It increased by 0.26 points to +0.18. The assessments of past production, the level of overall order books and export order books improved sharply. Also production expectations increased, though to a lesser degree, while managers' assessment of the stocks of finished products remained broadly unchanged.

November 2013: Economic Sentiment improves in the euro area and the EU

In November the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 0.8 points in the euro area (to 98.5) and by 0.4 points in the EU (to 102.1). While the upward trend observed since May has been preserved, the improvement in confidence has noticeably decelerated over the past two months, mirroring differences in developments across sectors.

First sites to get European Heritage Label named

The first sites to receive the new European Heritage Label (EHL) were named today by the independent selection panel set up by the European Commission. The four sites are: Carnuntum Archaeological Park , a Roman reconstructed city quarter in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, Austria; the medieval Great Guild Hall in Tallinn, Estonia; the 100-year-old Peace Palace in The Hague, and Camp Westerbork , a World War II Nazi transit camp at Hooghalen, also in the Netherlands. See also MEMO/13/1068.

Europe's Chief Information Officers and IT managers to endorse the Start-Up Manifesto

Vice President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes today welcomed the news that Europe's CIO community are to give their backing for entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe by signing the Startup Europe Manifesto . The Board of Directors of the European CIO Association which represents over 600 public and private sector organisations, and over half a million IT workers, will endorse the Manifesto at their Annual Conference in Brussels later today. The Start-Up Europe Manifesto was drawn up by some of Europe's top tech entrepreneurs such as the founders of Spotify and the founder of Rovio (the makers of the Angry Bird app); and it builds on the combined experience of dozens of Europeans who have imagined, built and grown successful businesses. It sets out 22 concrete action points for EU governments to take up, such as making teachers digitally confident, rolling out a pan-European Start-Up Visa, and making it easier for high-growth companies to raise capital through public markets. Since its launch in September 2013, the Manifesto has been endorsed by more than 6,000 people.

Causes of death in the EU28 in 2010 - Circulatory diseases main cause of death for men and women aged 65 years and over

For the older EU28 population, those aged 65 years and over, circulatory diseases and neoplasms were by far the most prevalent causes of death in 2010, with 1 931 deaths and 1 075 deaths respectively per 100 000 inhabitants of this age group. Respiratory diseases (378 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants), digestive diseases (177), diseases of the nervous system (154) and deaths due to external causes (125) were the other main causes of death for this age group. For all main causes, the standardised death rates for older men in the EU28 were higher than for older women.

VP Tajani in Lisbon: Forming new business partnerships can help Portuguese SMEs recover

Portugal was among the European countries worst hit by the economic crisis, but it has recently started to show signs of recovery. To help Portuguese SMEs emerge from the downturn and help kick-start the Portuguese economy, the European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani is traveling to Lisbon today with Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director-General of DG Enterprise and SME Envoy. They will be accompanied by representatives of about 150 European companies, who will participate in more than 1800 bilateral meetings with Portuguese SMEs to form new partnerships and discuss opportunities for collaboration in key sectors of the Portuguese economy such as tourism, agriculture and the economy of the sea.

Plant Health: Experts endorse emergency measures to restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa

Emergency measures proposed by the Commission to tackle citrus fruit from South Africa contaminated with citrus black spot, a harmful fungus not native to Europe, were today endorsed by Member State experts meeting at the Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH). Citrus black spot, caused by the fungus Guignardia citricarpa, is a plant disease which attacks citrus plants causing high losses to citrus fruit production. The EU is free from citrus black spot. During 2013, citrus black spot has been intercepted at the arrival into the EU in 36 consignments of citrus fruit from South Africa, although this is explicitly against EU´s import requirements. In 2013 around 600 000 tons of citrus fruit has been imported from South Africa representing approximately a third of the total import of citrus fruit in the EU territory. The introduction of citrus black spot into the EU territory would pose a serious threat to the EU's citrus producing areas. For that reason, it is necessary to further restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa. The new EU measures apply for citrus fruit produced during the 2012-2013 growing season, allowing only the entrance into the EU of citrus fruit originating in South African pest free areas for citrus black spot.

International Year of Family Farming 2014: Commission organizes kick-off conference

The European Commission organizes tomorrow a conference on family farming in Brussels, as its first contribution to UN's International Year of Family Farming 2014 launched last week. Drawing attention to the importance of family farming the conference will gather participants from around the world and from very diverse social horizons, including UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva. The results of the online consultation on family farming carried out earlier this year will be presented, as a starting point for further reflection on the best ways of supporting family farms. The world is fed by more than 500 million of family farms, which represent more than 80% of farms worldwide. These are in a position to make a decisive contribution to food security, sustainable management of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity. They are also key to a balanced territorial development taking local specificities into account. The conference outcome will contribute to the FAO European Regional Conference that will take place in April 2014 in Bucharest, and to other events related to family farming in the course of 2014.

Pensions: Commission welcomes OECD report on value of recent reforms to face future challenges

Recent reforms of pension systems have helped to contain the rise in future cost resulting from ageing populations and increasing life expectancy. These are the findings of the new OECD report Pensions at a Glance 2013 . The study presented today in Brussels confirms the European Commission's recommendations set out in the February 2012 White Paper on pensions (see IP/12/140 and MEMO/12/108). "The OECD observations confirm our analysis" said Commissioner László Andor. "The recent reforms aimed at strengthening the sustainability of pension systems needs to be accompanied by changes in work places and labour markets that enable women and men to work longer. Moreover, as the pensionable age and contribution years for a full pension go up,  countries must pay careful attention to those who, because of arduous work, care duties or exposure to unemployment and sickness, are unable to meet the new requirements."