EXME 12 / 29.02
Midday Express of 2012-02-29
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
99.7% (in commitments) of the EU budget were implemented in 2011 and 99.2% of the voted payments were executed. Out of a total budget of €123.2bn in payments, only €375 million have not been implemented (compared to €1.6bn not implemented in 2010).
The European Commission has today proposed decisive action to meet three key challenges facing our society, in areas that are crucial to growth and jobs: the supply of raw materials, sustainable agriculture, and active and healthy ageing. All three require a more concerted innovation effort across the public and private sector, in order to improve quality of life and position Europe as a global leader. The Commission has therefore launched two new European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) - on Raw Materials and on Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity - and has endorsed a four-year action plan for the Active and Healthy Ageing EIP, a pilot launched in February 2011. EIPs take a new approach to tackling the whole research-development-innovation chain, bringing together public and private stakeholders across borders and sectors in order to accelerate the uptake of innovation. They each have an ambitious target to reach by 2020, and are expected to start delivering results within 1-3 years. The announcement today comes just ahead of a European Council that is expected to reaffirm the place of research and innovation at the centre of European economic recovery.
Double non-taxation deprives Member States of significant revenues and creates unfair competition between businesses in the Single Market. It occurs when cross-border companies escape paying taxes due to mismatches between national tax systems. Aggressive tax planners often focus on exploiting loopholes between Member States' systems specifically to avoid taxes. As a first step in combating this problem, the Commission has today launched a public consultation on the double non-taxation of cross-border companies. The aim of the consultation is to gauge the full scale of the problem and see where the main weaknesses lie. On this basis, the Commission will develop the most appropriate policy response before the end of 2012. In order to encourage participation by those who may have insight into real-life exploitation of double non-taxation by companies, anonymous contributions will be accepted. The consultation is available in all official EU languages and will run until May 30 2012.
Enhanced consumer empowerment and strengthening enforcement of existing rules are the main objectives of a two-day international conference on the new EU animal welfare strategy taking place in Brussels on 29 February – 1 March. Co-organised by the European Commission and the Danish Presidency of the EU, this high-level conference aims to drive forward an integrated approach to animal welfare.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.6% in January 2012, down from 2.7% in December 2011. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was -0.8% in January 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.9% in January 2012, down from 3.0% in December 2011. A year earlier the rate was 2.7%. Monthly inflation was -0.6% in January 2012.
There are many cases where animals and plants have been introduced to an environment that is not naturally theirs, and are now spreading so fast that they become a threat to biological diversity. Some originally "non native" species such as the tomato or potato have historically been introduced without any problem. However, numerous other species including Canada geese, American bullfrogs, Japanese knotweed and Caulerpa seaweed are now spreading in our environment and threatening local fauna and flora and causing considerable damage to ecosystems and biodiversity. Such cases of "invasive alien species" can also threaten public health, damage crops and livestock and have serious economic effects. The European Commission is considering ways to tackle this problem, including a new dedicated legislative instrument, and seeking views through an on-line consultation on how to deal with the issue most effectively. The results of the consultation will feed into a proposal to appear later this year.
Commissioner Piebalgs attends the OECD Global Development Forum
On 29th and 30th February, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will be participate to the OECD Global Development Forum Conference and to the event related to the 50th anniversary of OECD Development Center. He will notably discuss the new OECD Development strategy as well as key issues such as taxation and development, the link between economic competition and social cohesion, through innovation, job creation, promotion of social and environmental standards and the role of emerging donors.
The Commissioner will also meet with French Minister for Cooperation, Henri de Raincourt. A press conference will take place on Wednesday 29th February from 2.30pm to 3pm.
Over 2,500 researchers and €4.2 billion: The EU's frontier research funding agency turns five
The European Research Council (ERC), which funds top researchers across Europe and is already recognised as a label of excellence by the scientific community, is today celebrating its 5th anniversary. The ERC has already funded more than 2,500 excellent researchers from 53 different nationalities working in some 480 different institutions across Europe. Total funding so far is €4.2 billion of the ERC's €7.5 billion budget for 2007 to 2013. The ERC's peer review evaluation system, the amount and duration of ERC grants, but also their flexibility and the possibility to move their host institution while keeping the grant, have made it first choice for researchers of all nationalities to work in Europe. Aside from keeping top researchers in Europe, ERC grants have convinced many from around the world to come back to or to move to Europe. The ERC counts so far four Nobel Prize winners and three Field Medallists among its grantees, as well as the winners of another 30 internationally recognised prizes. In total, the ERC has contributed to support over 12,000 researchers (including team members), and thereby helping to fuel Europe's long-term economic prosperity. To mark this milestone, the ERC is organising a two-day event - "5 Years of Excellent IDEAS", which takes place today and tomorrow in Brussels. The full programme is available on: http://erc.europa.eu/erc-5th-anniversary/home . ERC press release will be available on: http://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/press_release/files/erc_pr_5_anniversary.pdf
Romania joins EU project to boost low season tourism
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani and Mr Cristian Petrescu, the Romanian Minister of Regional Development and Tourism, will be signing an agreement today in Brussels for the participation of Romania in the 50,000 tourists project launched on 1 June 2011 ( IP/11/669). This project aims to combat low season travel, by making use of available spare airline and accommodation capacity to extend the seasonal spread of tourism boosting jobs and benefitting the local host economies. To this end the European Commission is working in collaboration with European governments, the tourism industry and airlines to develop tourism flows between Member States. The initial "50,000 tourists" pilot venture involves three South American countries: Brazil, Argentina and Chile; and six European Countries: Italy, Spain, France, Poland Lithuania and Greece. Airline partners include: Alitalia; Air France; British Airways; Iberia; Lufthansa German Airlines and TAP Air Portugal; industry representatives include the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), and the European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Association (ECTAA). The initiative will encourage travel by South Americans to Europe between October 2012 and March 2013, and Europeans' travel to South America between May 2013 and October 2013.
Merger: Commission clears acquisition of Kverneland by Kubota Corporation
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of the Norwegian-based company Kverneland by the Japanese company Kubota Corporation. Kverneland is active in the development, production and distribution of tractor implements and attachments for the farming industry in the EEA. Kubota Corporation is active in the development, production and distribution of farm and industrial machinery, water and environment systems as well as social infrastructures. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The final distribution of the 2012 Aid for the Needy Scheme has been voted through the Management Committee today and will be published in the Official Journal in the near future. It confirms that a total of €500 million will be available for the scheme this year – with a projected 18-19 million people in 20 Member States expected to benefit. Today's vote follows last week's formal adoption of the new legal framework by the European Parliament and the Council.
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