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Daily News – 29.06.2011

EXME 11 / 29.06

Midday Express of 2011-06-29

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

Towards harmonised environmental information in Europe: have your say on standards that will affect everybody's life

Arranging a cross border emergency rescue, preventing major environmental damage or comparing energy consumption of buildings in different countries will soon be faster and easier thanks to improved data sharing in the EU. With INSPIRE – Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe – the European Union is creating a common standard to make environmental information quickly and easily accessible. This will translate into clear benefits for European citizens, ranging from improved emergency services to a healthier everyday environment. Common standards will help to cut costs and improve the basis for decision making at all levels. Views are now being sought on the suitability of the proposed standards

State Aid – Germany: Aid to the "Gesellschaft für Weinabsatz" partially incompatible

The European Commission has found aid granted by Germany to Gesellschaft für Weinabsatz (GfW) incompatible with the EU State aid rules. The Commission has decided that a loan amounting to around € 15 million granted by the Wiederaufbaukasse der rheinland-pfälzischen Weinbaugebiete (WAK) in 1999 constitutes illegal State aid as it was granted in contradictions with the Commission notice on the method for setting the reference and discount rates.

Aides d'État – Belgique: Financement des tests EST sur les bovins en 2003-2004 partiellement illégal

La Commission européenne a décidé aujourd'hui que les aides accordées par la Belgique en faveur du financement des tests de dépistage des encéphalopathies spongiformes transmissibles (EST) chez les bovins au cours de la période entre le 1er janvier 2003 et le 30 juin 2004, étaient incompatibles avec les règles relatives aux aides d'Etat dans le domaine agricole. Ces aides doivent faire l'objet d'une récupération auprès des bénéficiaires. Le montant total à récupérer s'élève à 6,6 million d'euros hors intérêts.

State Aid: In-depth investigation into Finnish plans to modify investment aid and young farmers start-up support

The European Commission has opened a formal investigation under the EU State Aid rules into Finnish plans to modify investment aid and young farmer start-up support provided under existing aid schemes.The notified measure envisages lowering the minimum interest rate that the recipient of the loan must pay from 2% to 1% for the years 2011 and 2012. According to the Finnish authorities the reduction would be applicable for the new aid to be granted under the existing aid schemes as well as to aid already granted. The Commission has no objections to this measure concerning the new aid to be granted after approval of the present modification.

Price levels varied by one to three across the EU27 Member States

In 2010, price levels for consumer goods and services1 differed widely across Member States. Denmark (143% of the EU27 average) had the highest price level, followed by Finland (123%). Price levels of 10% to 20% above the EU27 average were found in Luxembourg and Sweden (both 120%), Ireland (118%) Belgium and France (both 112%), while Austria (107%), the Netherlands (106%), Germany and Italy (both 104%) were around 5% above the average. The United Kingdom (100%) was on the EU27 average. Spain (97% of the EU27 average) and Greece (96%) were just below the average, while Cyprus (89%), Portugal (88%) and Slovenia (84%) were between 10% and 20% below. Price levels between 20% and 30% below the average were observed in Malta (79%), Estonia (75%), the Czech Republic (72%) and Slovakia (71%), and levels between 30% and 40% below in Latvia (69%), Hungary (65%), Lithuania and Poland (both 63%). The lowest price levels were found in Bulgaria (51%) and Romania (59%). Price levels for food and non-alcoholic beverages3 in 2010 ranged from 66% of the EU27 average in Bulgaria to 136% of the average in Denmark. Differences in price levels between Member States were smaller for this product group than for total goods and services. For alcoholic beverages and tobacco4, prices were lowest in Bulgaria and Romania (both 64% of the average) and highest in Ireland (170%). This large price variation is mainly due to differences in taxation of these products among Member States.

Employment rate for those aged 20 to 64 in the EU27 decreased to 68.6% in 2010

The total employment rate1 for people in the EU27 aged 20 to 64, which is the age group targeted in the Europe 2020 strategy2, rose steadily from 66.8% in 2002 to 70.4% in 2008, then fell to 69.1% in 2009, and decreased further in 2010 to 68.6%. The employment rate for women in this age group, which increased continuously from 57.3% in 2000 to 63.0% in 2008, dropped for the first time in 2009 to 62.5%, then fell slightly again in 2010 to 62.1%. In contrast, the rate for older people, i.e. those aged 55 to 64, has continued to grow, reaching 46.3% in 2010, compared with 36.9% in 2000. In 2010, the employment rate for persons aged 20 to 64 was highest in Sweden (78.7%), the Netherlands (76.8%), Denmark (76.1%), Cyprus (75.4%), Germany and Austria (both 74.9%). The lowest rates were recorded in Malta (59.9%), Hungary (60.4%), Italy (61.1%), Spain (62.5%) and Romania (63.3%).

Household electricity prices in the EU27 rose by 5.1% and gas prices by 7.7%

In the EU27, household electricity prices1 rose by 5.1% between the second half of 2009 and the second half of 2010, after a fall of 2.3% between the second half of 2008 and 2009.

Household gas prices2 increased by 7.7% in the EU27 between the second half of 2009 and 2010, after a fall of 15.5% between the second half of 2008 and 2009. Between the second half of 2009 and the second half of 2010, the highest increases in household electricity prices in national currency4 were registered in Lithuania (+31%), Cyprus (+23%), Greece (+17%) and Malta (+12%), and the largest decreases in the Netherlands (-8%), Luxembourg (-7%), Italy and the Czech Republic (both -4%).

Commission clears acquisition of Sunpower by Total

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Total SA of France of SunPower Corporation of USA. Total is mainly active in the fields of natural gas and oil production, refining and marketing of oil products, petrochemicals and speciality chemicals. SunPower is active in the design, manufacturing and supply of solar cells, modules and systems, on a worldwide basis. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Foot and Mouth Disease : Commission reduces area covered by measures in Bulgaria

The European Commission reduced today the areas under restriction in Bulgaria due to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) after the successful implementation of EU rules by the Bulgarian authorities. Since no new outbreaks have been reported since 7 April 2011 and surveillance has been implemented with satisfactory results, the Commission adopted today a decision reducing the affected areas. FMD was first diagnosed in a wild boar shot by hunters at the end of 2010 in the region of Burgas in southeast Bulgaria, close to the border with Turkey, and later testing of samples from farmed animals rendered positive FMD results. The entire Burgas region was defined as high risk area (and the surrounding regions as low-risk area) in Commission Decision 2011/44/EC prohibiting the dispatch of susceptible animals from these areas and the dispatch of products derived from susceptible animals from the high-risk area. This decision also provides for the rules applicable to the dispatch from those areas of safe products. On May 31, the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) endorsed a Commission proposal amending that decision. It provides for the reduction of the size of the high-risk area to the three disease-stricken municipalities in the south–east of Burgas region separated from the disease-free rest of the country by a low-risk area comprising the surrounding municipalities of Sozopol, Primorkso and part of Sredets (in the Burgas region) and of the municipality of Bolyarovo and northern part of Straldzha (Yambol region).The Commission adopted today this decision, which will remain in force until 30 September 2011. The Commission will review it on the basis of the evolution of the disease situation. For more information please visit:

Transport: Commission makes €180 million available for key infrastructure projects

The European Commission launches on 29 June 2011 three calls for proposals under the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) multi-annual programme, making €180 million available to finance European transport infrastructure projects in the fields of European Rail Traffic Management Systems (ERTMS), Motorways of the Sea (MoS) and River Information Services (RIS). This will help to make travel and transport by rail and water more safe and secure, as well as more attractive compared to other transport modes.For further information: e-mail:


La ville de Donostia-San Sebastián, en Espagne, sera Capitale européenne de la culture en 2016

Bruxelles, 28 juin 2011 – Un jury d’experts indépendants a recommandé aujourd’hui que la ville espagnole de Donostia-San Sebastián soit désignée Capitale européenne de la culture 2016. Elle sera l’une des deux villes à porter ce titre, l’autre étant la ville de Wrocław, en Pologne (IP/11/766). La désignation officielle par le Conseil des ministres de l’Union européenne aura lieu en mai 2012.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Myths about the EU budget and the Multiannual Financial Framework - rediffusion

Money where it matters – how the EU budget delivers value to you- rediffusion

Message de félicitation du Président Barroso à Christine Lagarde pour sa nomination à la tête du Fonds Monétaire International – rediffusion

Statement by Commissioner Potočnik on the waste situation in Campania – rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso at the EP open conference of Presidents - rediffusion

Discours du Commissaire Barnier "Revisiter l’articulation des libertés économiques et des droits sociaux: une ambition pour la relance du Marché unique"