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Daily News – 29.01.2010

Midday Express of 2010-01-29

European Commission - 29/01/2010

EXME 10 / 29.01

Midday Express of 2010-01-29

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

European Globalisation Fund set to help workers in the furniture manufacturing and clothing industries in Lithuania

The European Commission has approved applications from Lithuania for assistance under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The Commission will now make proposals to the European Parliament and the Council to mobilise the budgetary resources. If approved, the total of € 1 185 569 requested will help 491 redundant workers in the clothing sector and 636 workers in the furniture manufacturing sector to get back into employment.

Un succès dans la lutte contre la contrefaçon: les résultats de l'opération douanière conjointe avec l'ASEM

Une opération douanière conjointe, répondant au nom de code Diabolo II et menée dans le cadre de l'ASEM (Asia-Europa meeting - Rencontre Asie-Europe), a abouti à la confiscation de plus de 65 millions de cigarettes contrefaites et de 369 000 autres articles de contrefaçon (chaussures, jouets, caméras, écouteurs, chapeaux, casquettes, gants, sacs à main, etc.) représentant plus d'une vingtaine de marques différentes. L'opération a également débouché sur l'ouverture d'autres enquêtes internationales concernant des activités criminelles. Ses résultats finals ont été annoncés aujourd'hui lors d'une réunion de débriefing organisée à Tokyo. Cette opération douanière conjointe, coordonnée par la Commission européenne/l'Office européen de lutte antifraude (OLAF) avait reçu le nom de code «Diabolo II», à la suite de l'opération douanière conjointe couronnée de succès qui avait eu lieu en 2007, appelée «Diabolo I».

State aid: Commission opens in-depth inquiry into €55 million investment into French car component supplier Trèves

The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to establish whether an investment worth €55 million that the FMEA (Fonds de Modernisation des Equipementiers Automobiles) granted to automotive supplier Trèves is in line with EU rules on state aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation allows interested parties to comment on the proposed measures. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.

Tajani urges for more action on lost luggage

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani has urged for greater action in reducing the amount of luggage lost or damaged during transit at a conference on baggage handling. The conference, aimed at highlighting the latest innovations in this important area of air travel, is discussing ways in which technology can play a role in improving the quality of baggage handling across the European Union.

Développement rural: 5 milliards € au total injectés dans les programmes de développement rural à la suite du dernier vote sur les modifications au titre du bilan de santé et du plan de relance

Le comité pour le développement rural a approuvé la dernière vague de propositions des États membres et des régions concernant l'utilisation du financement disponible dans le cadre du plan européen de relance économique et du bilan de santé de la PAC, ainsi qu’au titre d’autres transferts au sein de la PAC. Ce financement doit permettre d’apporter une réponse à des problèmes tels que la crise économique et laitière et le changement climatique. Entre les mois d’octobre 2009 et de janvier 2010, tous les programmes de développement rural ont été modifiés, et un montant complémentaire d’environ 5 milliards € est maintenant prêt à être investi dans l’agriculture, dans l’environnement et dans les infrastructures à large bande en milieu rural. Lors de sa réunion de janvier 2010, le comité pour le développement rural a approuvé les sept dernières modifications (voir tableaux à l’annexe 1; pour les décisions d'octobre, de novembre et de décembre, voir IP/09/1568 , IP/09/1813 et IP/09/1945 . La majeure partie des fonds sera concentrée dans les domaines de la biodiversité (31,2 % du total, soit 1,5 milliard €) et de la gestion de l'eau (26,9 %, soit 1,3 milliard €). La restructuration du secteur laitier bénéficie de 14,5 % du budget total (0,7 milliard). Les mesures liées au changement climatique représentent 14,2 % (0,7 milliard) de ce budget, alors que le soutien aux énergies renouvelables se voit octroyer 5,6 % du financement complémentaire (0,3 milliard €). Le développement des infrastructures à large bande reste une question importante pour les zones rurales. Les États membres ont donc décidé de consacrer à ces infrastructures 35 % des fonds disponibles au titre du plan de relance de l'UE, soit 360,4 millions € sur un total de 1 milliard €.

State aid: Commission takes Italy to Court for failure to recover illegal aid from hotels in Sardinia

The European Commission has decided to refer Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the basis of Article 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) for failing to comply with a Commission decision of July 2008. The 2008 decision ordered Italy to recover state aid unlawfully granted for certain investment projects in the hotel industry. To date, Italy has not recovered the aid from the beneficiaries.

State aid: Commission orders recovery of aid granted to Sovello AG (formerly EverQ GmbH)

The European Commission has decided under EU state aid rules that Sovello AG (formerly EverQ GmbH), a German manufacturer of solar panels, was not entitled to receive public support in the form of a bonus for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), (previously authorised by the Commission in June 2006), because the company did not meet the relevant criteria of the applicable EU framework for aid to SMEs (Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC). The Commission opened a new investigation in 2008 on the basis of additional information suggesting that the earlier decision to qualify Sovello AG as an SME had been based on incorrect information (see IP/08/951 ). The Commission has now concluded that Sovello kept the participation of one of its joint venture partners artificially below 25%, while its influence in Sovello was considerably greater than such a shareholding would suggest, and so in practice did not meet the SME thresholds of EU state aid rules. The aid received in the form of an SME bonus is therefore incompatible with EU state aid rules. The Commission has therefore revoked its 2006 decision and ordered Germany to recover the SME bonus from Sovello.

Joint statement on Nigeria

Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

Statement by EU High Representative / Vice President Catherine Ashton on the Presidential elections in Sri Lanka

"The EU welcomes that the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka, the first election of this kind for many years, took place in an overall peaceful environment. The large turn out demonstrates the wish of the Sri Lankan people to participate fully in the democratic process. The EU congratulates President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his re-election and stands ready to work with him and his Government in support of his objective of bringing sustainable peace to all people in Sri Lanka and actively engaging in an inclusive process of national reconciliation. The EU reiterates its concern that a significant number of incidents occurred during the election campaign. It trusts that the irregularities reported by election observers and the election commission will be duly investigated and that the safety and security of all candidates and campaign workers will be ensured by the authorities. The EU looks forward to continuing and reinforcing its cooperation with Sri Lanka, with a view to consolidating the relationship on the basis of shared values and common interests."

Euro area unemployment rate up to 10.0%

The euro area (EA16) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0% in December 2009, compared with 9.9% in November4. It was 8.2% in December 2008. The EU27 unemployment rate was 9.6% in December 2009, compared with 9.5% in November. It was 7.6% in December 2008. For the euro area this is the highest rate since August 1998 and for the EU27 since the start of the series in January 2000. Eurostat estimates that 23.012 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 15.763 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in December 2009. Compared with November, the number of persons unemployed increased by 163 000 in the EU27 and by 87 000 in the euro area. Compared with December 2008, unemployment went up by 4.628 million in the EU27 and by 2.787 million in the euro area. These figures are published by Eurostat.

Euro area inflation estimated at 1.0%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.0% in January 2010 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat. It was 0.9% in December 2009. Euro area inflation is measured by the Monetary Union Index of Consumer Prices (MUICP). To compute the MUICP flash estimates, Eurostat uses early price information relating to the reference month from Member States for which data are available as well as early information about energy prices. The flash estimation procedure for the MUICP combines historical information with partial information on price developments in the most recent months to give a total index for the euro area. No detailed breakdown is available. Experience has shown the procedure to be reliable (18 times exactly anticipating the inflation rate and 6 times differing by 0.1 over the last two years). Further information can be found in Eurostat News Release 113/2001 of 5 November 2001.

New EU Ecolabel rules published tomorrow in Official Journal

New rules strengthening the EU Ecolabel – the EU's label for environmentally friendly goods and services – will enter into force next month following their publication tomorrow in the Official Journal of the European Union. Important changes include even higher environmental standards, lower fees and simplified criteria linked to public purchasing and other EU policies. The scheme currently covers 26 product groups, including cleaning products, electronic equipment, textiles and tourist accommodation. The European Commission aims to increase the number of product groups to between 40 and 50 by 2015. The new rules include the possibility for Ecolabel criteria to be developed for food and drink products in the future. There will also be greater synergy with other national environmental labels as well as faster criteria development and revision procedures. The EU Ecolabel – the only pan-European environmental label – is a voluntary scheme launched in 1992 to encourage the production and consumption of green goods and services across the European Union. It recognises environmentally-friendly products by awarding them a distinctive and easily recognisable symbol of environmental quality – the Flower. Today, more than 24,000 products and services carry the logo. The new rules, which were adopted by the Council of Ministers in November, will enter into force 21 days after publication. Further details on the EU Ecolabel: www.ecolabel.eu

Commission clears acquisition of TKGK by Toray and TCC

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Tonen Specialty Separator Godo Kaisha (TKGK) of Japan by Toray Industries Inc. (Toray) and Tonen Chemical Corporation (TCC), both of Japan. Toray produces fibres and textiles, plastics and films, carbon fibres and carbon fibre composite materials, materials for electronic circuits and semi-conductors, water treatment membranes and is active in pharmaceutical and life sciences. TCC manufactures basic petrochemicals as well as petrochemical-based specialty chemicals, including solvents and adhesives. TKGK is active in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of separator film for lithium ion (‘li-ion’) batteries. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Rediffusion

Changement climatique: à la suite de l'accord de Copenhague, l’Union européenne notifie des objectifs de réduction des émissions

L’Union européenne a officialisé aujourd’hui son soutien à l’accord de Copenhague sur le climat et a présenté ses engagements en matière d’objectifs de réduction des émissions. Dans une lettre conjointe avec la présidence espagnole du Conseil, la Commission européenne a officiellement notifié la volonté de l’UE d’être associée à l’accord et a soumis pour information les objectifs de réduction des gaz à effet de serre établis par l’UE pour 2020. Ceux-ci comprennent un engagement unilatéral à réduire les émissions globales de l’UE de 20 % par rapport aux niveaux de 1990 ainsi qu’une offre conditionnelle de porter cette réduction à 30 % si les autres grands émetteurs de carbone acceptent d’assumer une juste part de l’effort collectif. Aux termes de l’accord, les notifications doivent être présentées d'ici au 31 janvier 2010.

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