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Daily News – 30.03.2012

EXME 12 / 30.03

Midday Express of 2012-03-30

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Commission fires starting gun on European Citizens' Initiatives

Sunday marks the launch of European Citizens' Initiatives. From that day, a million citizens from across Europe can come together on an issue that is important to them, and ask the Commission to do something about it.

La promotion des saveurs de l'Europe

La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui une Communication intitulée "La promotion et l'information en faveur des produits agricoles : une stratégie à forte valeur ajoutée pour promouvoir les saveurs de l'Europe". Cette Communication marque la seconde étape du processus de réforme de la politique de promotion lancée en juillet 2011 pour améliorer le dynamisme et la compétitivité du secteur agricole et agroalimentaire et promouvoir une croissance durable, intelligente et inclusive.

L´UE observera les élections législatives en Algérie

A l´invitation de la République Algérienne Démocratique et Populaire, l´Union européenne observera les élections législatives du 10 mai prochain. La Mission d´observation électorale (MOE) sera déployée dès le 30 mars et regroupera plus de 120 observateurs. La présence de ces observateurs à travers le pays et couvrant l´ensemble des étapes du processus électoral contribuera à la transparence et à la confiance dans le scrutin du 10 mai.

Commission wants your views on priority objectives for the environment

The Commission has launched a public consultation to gather views on the 7th EU Environmental Action Programme (7th EAP), which will set out priority objectives to be pursued up until 2020. The consultation remains open until 1 June.

Commission moves to boost social security rights for people migrating to and from the EU

In today's globalised labour market EU workers often spend part of their careers working outside the EU. In the same way, non-EU nationals make up around 4% of Member States' workforces. Yet, despite effective social security coordination system within the EU, there is a fragmented approach to social security coordination as regards the rest of the world. This is why the Commission is putting forward fresh ideas to clarify the social security rights of people migrating into and out of the EU. The aim is to ensure better protection of workers' rights, in particular acquired state pension rights.

State aid: Commission approves amendment to Commerzbank restructuring plan

The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a modification to Germany's and Commerzbank's commitment to divest its largest subsidiary Eurohypo by the end of 2014. The commitment had been given in the context of Commerzbank's restructuring plan, approved by the Commission on 7 May 2009 (see IP/09/711). When it appeared that Eurohypo could not be divested because of its large funding needs and significant sovereign exposure, the German authorities proposed instead to run-off most of Eurohypo's activities on Commerzbank's own balance sheet and to prolong the acquisition ban until March 2014. The Commission found the proposed alternative in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it will limit undue distortions of competition.

European Commission seeks public input on a modern system of European insolvency law

Today, the European Commission launched a public consultation on modernising EU rules governing insolvencies. The existing rules ( the Insolvency Regulation) date from 2000 and set out how bankruptcies – of companies or individuals – should be coordinated between several EU countries. The results of the consultation will help determine whether and how the existing Regulation needs to be revised in order to bolster businesses and strengthen the EU's Single Market. It forms part of the EU's efforts to preserve jobs and to promote economic recovery, sustainable growth and a higher investment rate, as set out in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Euro area inflation estimated at 2.6%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 2.6% in March 2012 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. It was 2.7% in February.

Around 40% of the EU27 population live in urban region and almost a quarter in rural regions

On 1 January 2011, 41% of the population of the EU27 lived in urban regions, 35% in intermediate regions and 23% in rural regions. Ireland, Slovakia and Estonia have the largest share of the population living in rural regions. Sweden and Denmark faced the fastest urban population growth in 2010.

Animal Health: Commission hosts international scientific seminar to discuss Schmallenberg Virus

A Scientific Seminar on managing the impact of the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) will be hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on Monday 2 April 2012. This one day seminar aims to gather Member State experts, scientists, interested parties and representatives from over 30 third-countries to openly discuss, amongst other issues, the economic impact of SBV. The wider objectives of this seminar are: to present the latest scientific data on SBV, provide a platform for an exchange of views between international experts and present the risk management approach taken by the EU. Sharing information will contribute to dispel myths surrounding the Schmallenberg virus which is a newly recognised animal pathogen that can cause infection in some ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats). It shall be noted that SBV does not affect pigs. This Scientific seminar is the latest in a long line of initiatives from the Commission whose aim is to closely monitor developments, better understand this emerging virus, take precautionary measures and ensure a coordinated EU response aiming to reduce the impact of SBV. The morning session will be dedicated to scientific information on SBV including: epidemiology of the virus, transmission of the virus, the impact of the infection (country indicators), data indicating the non-involvement of humans in this infection and the OIE technical fact sheet on SBV. The afternoon session will cover risk management aspects related to SBV: the Australian approach to a similar virus (the Akabane virus), update on diagnostic tools, presentation of scientific studies supported by the EU and risk management and control strategy in the EU. Speakers will include high-level representatives from: EU research bodies actively working on SBV, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Australia. For more information on the seminar: ; Webstreaming password access provided on request: ; For further information on the Schmallenberg virus:

Euro-Mediterranean conference to launch new partnership in research and innovation

Some 300 top-level scientists and policy-makers from around the European Union and Mediterranean region will meet in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday (3 April) for a first ever Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Research and Innovation. The conference will be opened by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Carmen Vela Olmo, State Secretary for Research and Innovation Spain, Andreu Mas-Colell, Minister for Economy and Knowledge Catalunia, Lahcen Daoudi, Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Training Morocco, Kim Brinckmann, Head of Division at Center for Globalisation, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation and Kent Johansson, Member of the European Parliament. The two-day conference will be a first step towards the goal of establishing a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space (CKIS), as set out in the EU's response to a changing neighbourhood policy presented in May 2011. At the conference, senior policy-makers, top-level scientists and other stakeholders from both the EU and the Mediterranean region will discuss how to build on past achievements and take the partnership forward. In particular, the conference will address: priorities for cooperation in research and innovation in key domains such as water, energy, transport, health and the marine environment; the actors and means that need to be mobilised, coordinated and combined in order to address the complete chain from research to innovation; and how to enhance coherence and complementarity between the various forms of bilateral, multilateral and EU level cooperation between the two regions, to overcome fragmentation and to achieve critical mass. For more information about the conference, please click here .

Competition: European Commission publishes internal manual of procedure for antitrust cases

Today, the European Commission has published its Directorate-General for Competition’s internal manual of procedure for investigations of antitrust cases (“Antitrust Manual”).

Following a request from a member of the legal community, the Commission is now making public substantial parts of the Antitrust Manual (the so-called “modules”) as part of its commitment to provide greater transparency about the procedures it applies in antitrust cases. This publication complements the adoption of the Commission notice on best practices for the conduct of antitrust proceedings in October (see IP/11/1201), which had the objective of making antitrust proceedings more transparent and predictable for the parties concerned. The Antitrust Manual is an internal working tool intended to give practical guidance to Commission staff on how to investigate cases under the EU’s rules on restrictive agreements and the abuse of dominant positions. The Manual may be updated if required to reflect new experience acquired in the application of these competition rules. The Antitrust Manual does not create or alter the legal rights or obligations of the Commission or those concerned by investigations under the competition rules of the Treaty.

The Antitrust Manual is available at:

Commission clears joint control of Dutch waste treatment companies by Sortiva and Remondis

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of joint control of Dutch companies Sortiva P&K and Stam Papier-Recycling B.V. by Dutch companies Sortiva B.V. and Remondis Nederland B.V. Sortiva P&K and Stam are both active in the Netherlands within the field of separation and sorting of paper and cardboard. Sortiva is active in the separation, sorting and recycling of non-hazardous waste flows, such as wood and rubble. Remondis is active within the field of collection, separation and sorting of paper, cardboard and other waste flows. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Aviation: Commission adopts rules for aircrew

The European Commission has adopted today a regulation harmonising requirements applied to cabin crew, pilot training organisations, aero-medical centres and national civil aviation authorities. This new set of rules will complement the current aircrew regulation and will further simplify the daily life of thousands of aircrew (pilots and cabin crew) across the EU while ensuring high levels of safety. The proposed rules, applicable as from 8 April 2012, complement the already existing Regulation 1178/2011 for civil aviation aircrew  and provide for: (i) harmonised rules which replace national procedures concerning pilot licences and medical certificates; (ii) further EU harmonisation on qualification and certification of cabin crew involved in commercial operations; (iii) mutual recognition of licences, attestations, medical certificates and assessments, as well as training organisations and aero-medical centres; (iv) a simple, safe, proportionate, cost effective and efficient legislative framework; (v) sufficient transitional measures to allow national administrations and affected stakeholders a smooth transition to the new EU rules. The new regulation will ensure the application of similar high level safety requirements and procedures across the EU and extend to the training organisations and aero-medical centres the benefits of mutual recognition, thus having a potential to boost free movement, growth and competitiveness.

Autre matériel diffusé :

MEMO " European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)

Memo: "Communication on the External Dimension of EU Social Security Coordination and four proposals for Council Decisions"

Memo: "Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in research and innovation – frequently asked questions"

Memo :"Statement by Commissioner Michel Barnier, following the vote by the European Parliament of new European rules to regulate financial derivatives" - rediffusion

Memo: "Regulation on Over-the-Counter Derivatives and Market infrastructures – Frequently Asked Questions" - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Barnier at the Eurofi High Level Seminar: "Financial regulation: how to achieve global convergence"

Speech by Vice President Kallas at the Piracy Seminar "Vice President Siim Kallas key not speech" – rediffusion