EXME 13 / 29.11
29 / 11 / 13
The signing ceremony at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius this morning (coverage on EbS) included:
Signature of visa facilitation agreement with Azerbaijan
Signature of a framework agreement with Georgia on participation in EU Crisis management operations
Initialling of Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Georgia, followed by remarks from Georgian Foreign Minister
Initialling of Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the Republic of Moldova, followed by remarks from Moldovan Prime Minister
The initialling of a civil aviation agreement with Ukraine took place yesterday.
President Barroso's remarks at the Plenary Session of the 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit and his opening remarks at initialling ceremony of the Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova) are available on-line; President Barroso's statement at the press conference together with President Van Rompuy and the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite will be available shortly.
Opening the conference on family farming organized today by the Commission, EU Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş expressed his strong support for the UN International Year of Family Farming 2014 and stressed the importance of family farming in the world. He said: "Family farming represents more than 80% of all farms, i.e. more than 500 million farms. The world is fed by family farming. There are several types of family farming, from subsistence to a market oriented, intensive agriculture based on modern technologies. This diversity is an asset. Family farms play an economic role, in terms food security, but they also have a social function, structuring rural areas. Today's conference and the related events that follow will enable us to show the potential of family farming to ensure food security, to create jobs, and to manage natural resources sustainably. Facing today's big challenges (climate change, rising demand for food, etc.), we can trust in family farms, they have shown a remarkable ability to adapt. They are part of the solution. The Common Agricultural Policy supports them with several tools. To turn these challenges into opportunities, we need a common effort at all levels - governments, international institutions, agricultural associations, civil society organizations."
On 2 December 2013 the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) becomes operational. EUROSUR will make an important contribution to saving lives of those who put themselves in danger to reach Europe's shores. It will also equip the EU and its Member States with better tools to prevent cross-border crimes, such as trafficking in human beings or trafficking in drugs, while at the same time detect and provide assistance to small migrant boats in distress, in full compliance with European and international obligations, including the principle of non-refoulement. "I welcome the launch of EUROSUR. It is a truly European response to save the lives of migrants travelling in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels, to avoid further tragedies in the Mediterranean and also to stop speed boats transporting drugs," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The latest annual report on the European Parliament and European Commission's joint Transparency Register shows that more interest representatives have registered than ever before. Almost 6,000 organisations have now signed up – an increase of 10% on last year's report. A recent academic study referenced in the report suggests it now covers 60-75% of all Brussels-based actors. At the same time, well over 1,000 quality checks have been made, taking advantage of shorter procedures and new IT tools introduced this year to increase efficiency. Of these, 783 were followed-up to improve the quality of information in the Register.
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 12.1% in October 2013, down from 12.2% in September. The EU28 unemployment rate was 10.9%, stable compared with September. In both zones, rates have risen compared with October 2012, when they were 11.7% and 10.7% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In October 2013, 26.654 million men and women were unemployed in the EU28, of whom 19.298 million were in the euro area. Compared with September 2013, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 75 000 in the EU28 and by 61 000 in the euro area. Compared with October 2012, unemployment rose by 512 000 in the EU28 and by 615 000 in the euro area.
As of 1 December 2013, trade barriers will be lifted between the European Union and Guatemala, when the trade pillar of the EU–Central America Association will be applied. With Guatemala joining, the whole region of Central America can now benefit from the trade agreement, as the deal is already implemented with the other five member countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama. This ambitious trade partnership will open up new markets and simplify rules which will boost trade and investments on both sides. The Central American economy is expected to grow by over €2.5 billion per year.
Today, the European Union and Azerbaijan signed an agreement to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-stay visas. The EU-Azerbaijan Visa Facilitation Agreement was signed in Vilnius on the occasion of the third Eastern Partnership Summit. It makes it cheaper and faster for all citizens of Azerbaijan to acquire short-stay visas allowing them to travel throughout the EU. "I am very pleased that the visa facilitation agreement has been signed, allowing citizens from Azerbaijan to travel more easily to the Schengen area, as well as for EU citizens to travel to Azerbaijan," said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Commission prolongs General Block Exemption Regulation by six months
The European Commission has prolonged a regulation exempting certain categories of aid from prior Commission scrutiny (the General Block Exemption Regulation – GBER, see IP/08/1110 and MEMO/08/482). The current GBER was adopted in July 2008 and is in the process of being revised (see IP/13/736 and MEX/13/0508). As the current regime was due to expire at the end of 2013, the Commission has prolonged it by six months, until 30 June 2014. The new GBER is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2014. Member States can continue to apply existing schemes until 30 June 2014, provided they had previously submitted the summary information sheets required for implementing schemes under the GBER to the Commission and the scheme is not substantially amended.
Mergers: Commission clears joint venture for logistics services between Japanese companies Nippon Express and Panasonic Corporation
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Panasonic Logistics, by Nippon Express Co., Ltd. and Panasonic Corporation, all of Japan. Panasonic is a global supplier of a wide range of audio-visual and communication products, home appliances, etc. Panasonic currently controls Panasonic Logistics, which is active in the logistic sector. Nippon Express is a global logistics supplier. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, because the joint ventures' actual and foreseen activities in the European Economic Area (EEA) will be negligible and its market shares will be very low. 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.7038 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Balfour Beatty's group UK facilities management business by GDF Suez subsidiary
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Balfour Beatty Workplace Limited, Covion Holdings Limited, Colledge Trundle & Hall Limited and their respective subsidiaries (the target businesses) by GDF Suez Energy Services International S.A. (GSES International), belonging to the GDF Suez group. The target businesses operate within the support services division of Balfour Beatty plc and primarily provide facilities management services in the UK. GSES International, a subsidiary of GDF Suez Energy Services S.A. (GSES), through its brand Cofely, is also active in facilities management. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because of the minor overlaps between the parties' activities. The operation 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.7043 .
Produits agricoles de qualité: le "Saint-Marcellin" enregistré comme indication géographique protégée
La Commission européenne a approuvé la demande d'enregistrement dans le registre des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP) et des indications géographiques protégées (IGP) de la dénomination française " Saint-Marcellin " comme indication géographique protégée (IGP). Elaboré dans la région du Bas Dauphiné, entre les plaines du Lyonnais et les montagnes calcaires de la Chartreuse et du Vercors occidental, le "Saint-Marcellin" est un fromage élaboré à partir de lait de vache entier selon une technique de transformation spécifique héritée de méthodes anciennes. Ce nom rejoindra la base de données de plus de 1200 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Pour plus d'information, consulter les pages internet sur les produits de qualité et la base de données DOOR reprenant les dénominations protégées.
In Europe’s biggest ever app challenge the EU is offering €400 000 in prizes to best new applications that help build smarter cities and smarter businesses. Campus Party , the world’s largest geek forum, will manage the contest, judged by specialized engineers from the EU-funded FI-WARE Consortium.
The European Commission has awarded the “European Research Infrastructure Consortium status” ( ERIC status) to four consortia in the fields of health and social sciences research. The decision simplifies their management procedures and allows for further advancement of their research. Although Member States remain the main contributors to the setting up and operation of these transnational bodies, up to €37.5 million has been provided in support of the preparation of those four facilities under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Further financial support is expected under Horizon 2020 -the next funding programme for Research and Innovation that will run from 2014 to 2020- to support the implementation and operation of these and other world class research infrastructures.
The European Commission has today published a Report on "Genetic Resources – From Conservation to Better Use," outlining Commission aims for the period until 2020. While issues of conservation and halting biodiversity loss in agriculture remain a central element, the report highlights the need for a change of rationale with greater emphasis on an increased sustainable use of our genetic resources such as traditional or endangered breeds of animals or plants. The report is accompanied by a second document, reporting on existing programmes, as required by the end of 2013 under the current regulation. Commenting on the Commission report, EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloş said today: "It is very important that actions on genetic resources go beyond conservation. Genetic material offers huge resources not only in terms of economic benefits but also to help address the challenges we face such as climate change, plants' resistance to pests, productivity, diverse consumer demands and economic development in rural areas. We must valorise as much as possible the diversity of genetic materials at our disposal".
Like every year on 1st of December, the European Commission is commemorating World AIDS Day, yet again an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, to stress the importance of raising awareness about HIV and AIDS. EU policies focuses primarily on prevention, support for people living with HIV/AIDS and enhanced cooperation between national authorities, civil society and stakeholders across Europe. The European Commission is also greatly involved in the fight against HIV/AID on a global stage via various policies and funds which are contributing to fight against this disease.
The second meeting of the Competitiveness Council under the Lithuanian Presidency will meet formally in Brussels on December 2-3. The Council will be chaired by the Lithuanian Minister of Economy, Evaldas Gustas, except for the Research part of the Council which will be chaired by the Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science, Dainius Pavalkis. On Monday 2nd December, the European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani (Industry and Entrepreneurship), by Vice-President Joaquin Almunia (Competition), by Commissioner Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services) and by Commissioner Neven Mimica (Consumer Policy). On Tuesday 3rd December, the European Commission will be represented by Vice-President Antonio Tajani, by Vice-President Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda), by Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science) and by Commissioner Günther Oettinger (Energy).
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.9% in November 2013, up from 0.7% in October, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, food, alcohol & tobacco is expected to have the highest annual rate in November (1.6%, compared with 1.9% in October), followed by services (1.5%, compared with 1.2% in October), non-energy industrial goods (0.3%, stable compared with October) and energy (-1.1%, compared with -1.7% in October).
Commissioners' weekly activities
Upcoming Commission activities for the weeks ahead
What Commissioners said
Speaking at the Eurocities 2013 "Smart Citizens" conference in Ghent, Belgium, Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said: "With the adoption of the Multifinancial Framework and the Cohesion Policy Package, the budget and reform of Structural Funds are secure. We have the green light to start work. One of the elements of the reform is the strengthening of the urban dimension. This means investing in priorities such as sustainable urban mobility, revitalisation of cities and upgrading of research and innovation capacity in urban areas. I estimate 40% of structural funds are being spent in cities in this period, this likely to be 50% in the next period. European goals can only be achieved with cities: for example energy efficiency, innovation and tackling poverty. Whatever important to Europe is concentrated in cities. Cities are actors, not just the stage on which modern life is played out. They need to make their voices heard. In February, we will start discussions on a new urban agenda for Europe".