EXME 12 / 29.03
Midday Express of 2012-03-29
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Progress in cutting road fatalities significantly slowed last year (to -2%) compared with a very promising EU-wide reduction throughout the last decade (on average -6%), according to new figures published today by the European Commission. Worse still, some EU Member States, like Germany and Sweden, who have very strong safety records, now show a significant increase in deaths. In other Member States, like Poland and Belgium – already lagging behind in road safety – the number of deaths went up. The problem of motorcycles – where fatalities have still not fallen after more than a decade – still persists.
Now in its eighth year, the European Commission'sinvolves more than 155 000 teachers in 31 countries who are using information and communication technologies (ICT) to set up cross-border educational projects. 500 teachers are meeting in Berlin on 29 - 31 March to share ideas for future eTwinning initiatives and to celebrate the best eTwinning projects of the year, involving schools from Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Turkey, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Greece, Romania, Portugal and Slovenia.
Today, the European Commission has approved funding from the European Regional Development Fund for a major project to restore the area of the UNESCO site of Pompeii, in Campania, Italy. The project 'preservation, maintenance and improvement of the archaeological site of Pompeii' will lead to the investment of 105 million euro of EU and national contributions combined. The objective is to preserve the site as a long term tourism attraction for the region.
In March 2012, the Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area decreased by 0.14 points to -0.30. The decline was mainly driven by a more negative assessment of production expectations, order books and past production. Managers' assessment of their stocks of finished products remained broadly unchanged, while export order books were assessed slightly more positively.
After improving in January and February, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) decreased in March by 0.8 points in the EU and by a marginal 0.1 points in the euro area, to 93.2 and 94.4, respectively. The decline was mainly driven by decreasing confidence in the industry and construction sectors. By contrast, confidence increased among consumers and in the services and retail trade sectors.
SME Envoys call upon action to eliminate access barriers for SMEs to public procurement
The Network of SME Envoys met yesterday in Brussels to discuss how to improve market access opportunities for the 23 million SMEs in the EU. The SME Envoys were particularly concerned by the low participation rate of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in public procurement. They supported the upcoming review of the European procurement rules which will make it easier for small companies to participate in public tenders. The SME Envoys also called upon SMEs to seize all the opportunities of the green economy, as only 26% of SMEs are active in green markets today. The global market for environmental goods and services is estimated to be around €1000 billion per annum and expected to triple by 2020. The third main topic of this meeting was assisting SMEs to go international. Member States representatives and Business Organisations alike agreed on the need to follow up with concrete measures. On invitation of the Maltese government, the next SME envoy meeting will take in Valetta on 15 June 2012. More information:
The European Union is responding positively to the invitation of the Myanmar Government to be present at the by-elections in the country on 1 April 2012. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton has decided to deploy a small team of experts to be present on election day, joining diplomats from the EU Member States Embassies in the country. Thus, the EU, with ASEAN, the US and Australia will ensure an essential presence at this key moment of Myanmar’s political transition.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht heads to Phnom Penh today to meet with ASEAN economic ministers and attend the second ASEAN-EU Business Summit on April 1st.
Helios: Energy Commissioner Oettinger attends Renewable Energy Conference in Athens
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger will be in Athens on 3rd April to discuss prospects for renewable energy and infrastructure in Greece, in particular the "Helios" project. The High-Level Conference aims at spoting cost efficiency of renewables and exploring the potential contribution of renewables projects to growth and jobs in South-eastern Europe. Not only has Helios the potential to be a showcase of European cooperation in the area of renewables in order to further improve the cost efficiency of renewable energy sources in Europe. It could also help making renewable energy a key area for growth in Greece, while facilitating northern countries' imports of solar energy. Through Helios, Greece plans to create 10 GW of Photovoltaic (PV) installations to generate electricity for export towards central European countries. The project intends to exploit the comparative advantage Greece has regarding the generation of electricity in PV installations. The average annual solar irradiation in Greece is among the highest in Europe (1800 kWh/m2), i.e. around 50% higher than Germany’s. For further information please contact the energy press team. The programme of the conference "Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Development in South-eastern Europe and the Helios Project” and the list of speakers can be consulted here:
TEN-T: EU grants over €160 million to support key infrastructure projects
The European Commission announced yesterday the projects selected to receive over €160 million in EU co-financing from the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) programme to continue improving transport infrastructure across the EU. The 26 selected projects will use the EU’s financial support to speed up the implementation of important priorities of the TEN-T Programme in order to contribute to delivering a safe, competitive and efficient transport infrastructure network. The 2011 multi-annual programme call granted €161.3 million in total funding and aimed to finance the highest priorities of the TEN-T network, focusing on three fields: Motorways of the Sea (MoS - TEN-T Priority Project 21), providing viable alternatives for congested roads by shifting freight to sea routes – 7 projects selected, €47.8 million in funding; River Information Services (RIS), involving traffic management infrastructure on the inland waterway network – 4 projects selected, €10.2 million in funding; European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) – 15 projects selected, €103.3 million in funding. The TEN-T Executive Agency, which is entrusted with the financial and project management of the TEN-T programme, received 47 eligible proposals. 26 of these were selected, after a meticulous selection procedure, as the ones best meeting the criteria set out in the 2011 Multi-Annual Call, which was published on 28 June 2011. For further details:
The European Commission has fined nine European producers of mountings for windows a total of € 85 876 000 for operating a cartel by which they agreed on common price increases, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The collusion lasted from November 1999 to July 2007 and affected European buyers of windows across all Member States of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA). The companies are Roto, Gretsch-Unitas, Siegenia, Winkhaus, Hautau, Fuhr, Strenger (all of Germany), Maco of Austria and AGB of Italy. Roto received full immunity from fines under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice, as it was the first to provide information about the cartel. The fine for Gretsch-Unitas was reduced by 45% and the fine for Maco by 25% in view of their cooperation in the investigation.
The European Commission has fined 14 international groups of companies a total of € 169 million for participating in the period 2002-2007 in four distinct cartels aimed at fixing prices and other trading conditions for international air freight forwarding services, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The freight forwarders colluded on surcharges and charging mechanisms concerning important trade lanes, in particular the Europe-USA and the China/Hong Kong-Europe lanes. Participants and duration varied in each of the four cartels. Deutsche Post (including its subsidiaries DHL and Exel) received full immunity from fines under the Commission's 2006 leniency notice for all four cartels, as it was the first to reveal their existence the Commission.
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