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Daily News – 30.03.2011

EXME 11 / 30.03

Midday Express of 2011-03-30

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

I. Résultats de la Commission du 30 mars 2011 – Outcome of Commission meeting of 30 March 2011

Commission appoints a new Deputy Director General and two new Directors

The Commission has appointed Mr Alan Seatter as Deputy Director-General in the Environment Directorate-General. Mr Seatter, who is Scottish, is currently a Director in the Secretariat General, responsible for Better Regulation and Co-ordination. He will take up his new duties on a date to be determined. Other appointments include Mr Stefan Pflüger, who becomes a Director in the Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate-General. His new role will be as Secretary of the Economic and Financial Committee and of the Economic Policy Committee. Mr Pflüger, who is German, is currently the acting secretary of these committees. He will take up his new duties on 16 April. Also appointed is Belgian national Mr Eric Van Ginderachter, as Director of the Cartels Directorate, in the Competition Directorate-General. Mr Van Ginderachter is currently a Head of Unit in DG Competition, responsible for state aids. He will take up his new duties on 1 April.

II. Other news

Commission makes €24.2 million available to the development of electromobility in Europe

The European Commission will support a cross-European electromobility initiative, Green eMotion, worth €41.8 million, in partnership with forty two partners from the industries, utilities, electric car manufacturers, municipalities, universities and technology and research institutions. The aim of the initiative is to exchange and develop know-how and experience in selected regions within Europe as well as facilitate the market roll-out of electric vehicles in Europe. The Commission will make €24.2 million available to finance part of the initiative's activities.

March 2011: Economic sentiment stable in the EU and slightly down in the euro area

From February 2011 onwards, business surveys are presented exclusively in accordance with the NACE rev. 2 classification. In previous months, a combination of NACE rev. 1 and rev. 2 has been used.In March, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) was broadly unchanged at 107.4 in the EU, while it decreased by 0.6 point to 107.3 in the euro area. The overall decline in the euro area resulted from broadly unchanged sentiment in industry and weakening confidence in the other business sectors and among consumers. In the EU, industry and services remained on an upward trend offsetting the declines observed in retail trade, construction and among consumers.

March 2011: Business Climate Indicator declines in the euro area

From February 2011 onwards, business surveys are presented exclusively in accordance with the NACE rev. 2 classification. In previous months, a combination of NACE rev. 1 and rev. 2 has been used. The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area fell in March 2011. Still, the current level of the indicator is very close to historical peaks, suggesting that the recovery in industry will continue in the coming months. The indicator's overall decrease was the result of offsetting forces, with improvements in order books and an improvement in managers' appraisal of stocks of finished goods more than offset by a decline in their assessment of production trend observed in recent months, production expectations and export order books.

Avenir de l'aviation: le commissaire Siim Kallas présente le rapport «Flightpath 2050» aux Journées de l'aéronautique 2011 de Madrid

Dans le cadre des Journées de l'aéronautique 2011 qui se déroulent à Madrid, le vice-président de la Commission responsable des transports, M. Siim Kallas, présentera le 30 mars 2011 un rapport exposant une nouvelle stratégie à long terme élaborée par un groupe de haut niveau sur l'aviation et la recherche aéronautique. Ce rapport fait suite au livre blanc sur les transports adopté le 28 mars 2011, qui a recensé un certain nombre de mesures à prendre dans le domaine de l'aviation.

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of a stake in Italian engine manufacturer VM Motori by Fiat

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over the Italian diesel engine manufacturer VM Motori S.p.A. by Fiat S.p.A. and General Motors Company of the US. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Health: Commission launches 3rd Journalist Prize

Today, registration opens for the 3rd EU Health Prize for Journalists. The aim of this prize is to raise awareness on health issues by showcasing the talents of the best health journalists from across the 27 Member States. As with the previous two prizes, the theme of the 3rd prize is 'Europe for Patients', which from this year, includes the topic of pharmaceuticals. The winners will receive cash prizes of 6.000 € for first place, 2.500 € for second place and 1.500 € for third place. New this year is a special prize of 3.000 € that will be awarded for an article that highlights the health dangers of tobacco.

Distribution of EU funds for the School Fruit Scheme programme for 2011/2012

The European Commission today decided on the definitive allocation of EU aid to Member States under a School Fruit Scheme for the 2011/2012 school year. This will be the third year of the Scheme's application since its launch in 2009 and 24 Member States have decided to participate in the programme with only Sweden, Finland and United Kingdom opting out. Out of €90 million of EU funds available for the financing of the Scheme, the main beneficiaries in 2011/2012 will be Italy (€18 million), Germany (€11 million), France (€10 million), Poland (€9 million) and Romania (€8 million). The EU funds are co-financing the Scheme and must be matched by national or private contributions. The Scheme is an important EU-wide initiative in efforts to encourage healthier eating habits amongst school children as they are more likely to become lifelong habits if developed at an early age. Improved nutrition plays an important role in combating health problems related to poor nutrition, such as child obesity. In 2009/2010 school year, 4.7 million children in participating Member States benefited from the Scheme by receiving portions of fruit and vegetables in the school.

Commission approves prolongation of Romanian subsidised guarantee scheme for real economy

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a twelve-month extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary Romanian scheme to grant subsidised guarantees for investment and working capital loans to firms. The extended scheme does not apply to companies in difficulty and excludes working capital loans for large companies from the benefit of the subsidised guarantee premium. The Commission therefore found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 9 July 2009 (see IP/09/882) and further amended on 29 July 2010 to be in line with the stricter conditions of its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis, adopted in December 2010, to stimulate a gradual return to market conditions (see IP/10/1636).

Commission clears prolongation of French short-term export credit insurance scheme

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a prolongation until 31 December 2011 of the French short-term export-credit insurance scheme. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 6 October 2009 (IP/09/1422) to be in line with the conditions of its Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis (see IP/08/1993 and IP/10/1636). In particular, France provided recent evidence proving to the Commission's satisfaction that for certain markets the short-term export-credit insurance cover on the private markets is still unavailable. The Commission has therefore concluded that this measure represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the French economy and as such is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Quarterly Labour Market Monitor – January to March 2011

According to the new Quarterly Labour Market Monitor, the deterioration in the EU labour market resulting from the economic crisis, which has been easing since mid 2010, has at last gradually given way to moderate increases in employment. However, the marked impact of the crisis on young people, migrants and the low-skilled is still evident. Moreover, the slight progress in employment is mainly due to part-time and temporary jobs. Part-time employment had been growing during the crisis and it has contributed to cushioning the fall in full-time employment. Moreover, permanent contracts are still decreasing while temporary contracts started to gain some ground in the second quarter of 2010, especially for prime-age workers. Year-on-year growth in hourly labour costs increased slightly to 1.9 % in the fourth quarter of 2010 in nominal terms, reflecting an increase in growth in wages and salaries to 2 %. Nominal labour cost growth remained moderate in most Member States though, with a limited impact on unit labour costs. Hours worked have also risen, reflecting the recovery in industry and retail trade activities. Restructuring reported in the European Restructuring Monitor slowed down further in the first two months of 2011 with first indications of job creation in some sectors. A special focus in this review analyses the case of the construction sector. Confidence on labour markets in the EU has continued to broadly improve, albeit at a slower pace and with divergences between Member States and sectors. Firms and consumers are becoming more optimistic about the outlook for employment and unemployment. The economic recovery remains fragile in the EU and conditions in the labour market are generally set to remain weak and divergent across Member States. A special section on the social climate reports that in many respects people do not feel any significant improvement in terms of social situation, as compared to 2010, though this was still better than 2009. This edition of the Quarterly Labour Market Monitor takes a closer look at the labour market situations in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom. The Quarterly Labour Market Monitor can be found at:

Innovation in Healthcare, from Research to Market

The second edition of the conference "Innovation in Healthcare" will explore how to stimulate and facilitate innovation in this sector. It will take place in Brussels from 30 to 31 March in the presence of European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. The conference will focus on various aspects of bringing "research to market" and explore how the healthcare system will cope with new technologies and delivery models becoming available to clinicians and patients. In this context special attention will be given to the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they are the main drivers of innovation in medicine. Journalists can register themselves for the lunch on 31 March during which most of the speakers of the conference will be available for interviews. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis by email to stavros   Conference programme

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to visit Belgian Parliament

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič will today (30 March) address the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs of the Belgian Parliament, as part of a programme of visits to deepen links with all national parliaments in the EU. He will encourage parliamentarians to play a full role in Europe's decision-making process, and pay tribute to the special importance of Belgium, and Brussels in particular, to the European institutions.

The trip also includes a meeting with Mr André Flahaut, the Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Statement by Commissioner Dalli on the lack of agreement in the conciliation procedure on the Novel Food Regulation -rediffusion

Joint statement by Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, on their trip to Tunisia"

Memo EU-US Negotiations on an agreement to protect personal information exchanged in the context of fighting crime and terrorism -rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Potočnik "What kind of growth for Europe?" -rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Füle "Address to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia" - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Tajani "Intervention à la XIXème Conférence des Ministres Africains de l'Industrie" - rediffusion