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Brussels, 2nd December 2005

Spokesperson’s Group of the European Commission

Top News from the European Commission
5th December– 25th December 2005

Background Notes from the Spokesperson’s group FAO journalists

The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Information :

  • There will be a pre-council press conference with President Barroso on Monday 12th December, time and date to be confirmed.
  • The press conference with Vice-President Jacques Barrot on cleaner cars has been moved from 7th to 21st December.

Monday 5th December: EU Financial Services Policy for the next five years

The news:

  • Following the publication of a Green paper in March, the Commission will now publish a White Paper on the EU financial services policy for the next five years.
  • The new strategy will have a strong focus on implementation, enforcement and evaluation.
  • It will explore ways of improving cross-border access to retail financial services and asset management.
  • The aim is to create real benefits for European citizens and businesses through lower capital costs, better pensions, and cheaper and safer retail financial products.

The event:

Off the record technical briefing at 1500 with David Wright of DG MARKT at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The source:

Ø IP/05/527

The contacts :
Oliver Drewes Tel: +32 2 299 2421; Catherine Bunyan Tel: +32 2 299 6512

Tuesday 6th December: More open and efficient defence procurement

The news:

  • The Commission will publish the results of a public consultation launched in September 2003 on how to improve cross border competition in defence procurement for more open and efficient procurement.
  • The Commission wants to help Member States to get better value for money for defence procurement and to help EU defence industries to be more competitive.
  • More cross-border competition in some military procurement would strengthen innovation and improve the competitiveness of Europe's Defence industry.

The event:

Publication of an IP, reference to be confirmed. Technical briefing to be confirmed.

The source:

Ø IP/04/1133

The contacts :
Oliver Drewes Tel :+32 2 299 2421; Catherine Bunyan Tel :+32 2 299 6512

Tuesday 6th December: Bringing Europe closer to you

The news:

  • For the first time, the Commission will launch a campaign to promote its freephone and internet inquiry Europe Direct service.
  • The campaign will begin in Belgium on 6th December and will expand into the other Member States over the coming weeks.
  • The campaign will be launched as Europe Direct celebrates its 100 000th in 2005: an annual record.
  • Europe Direct is a multilingual service providing rapid answers to any questions on the European Union.
  • Inquiries can be made by freephone number from all Member States, by internet or live by instant message.

The event:

Press meeting and photo opportunity at 1130 with Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, in Robert Schuman metro station in Brussels. Available on Europe-by-Satellite tbc.

The sources:

Ø IP/05/823

Ø MEMO/05/151

  • European Commission:

The contacts:
Mikolaj Dowgielewicz Tel :+32 2 295 0051; Mona Lund Tel :+32 2 299 9020

Wednesday 7th December: Tackling obesity

The news:

  • The Commission will adopt a Green Paper on the promotion of healthy diets and physical activity.
  • A consultation process on fighting obesity has been launched, with the aim of developing a Community strategy on diet, physical activity and health
  • Obesity is estimated to account for up to 7% of health care costs in Europe, and poor nutrition, lack of exercise and obesity taken together are the leading cause of preventable death in Europe
  • Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition are risk factors associated with heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis
  • The number of overweight and obese children is estimated to be rising by 400,000 a year. Across the EU 25, one in four children are overweight
  • The European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, launched in March 2005, and the European Network on Nutrition and Physical Activity are two of the tools which the EU has developed to respond to these health issues.
  • The Green Paper will seek the views of the EU institutions and interested parties on areas including advertising, consumer information and education and the promotion of physical activity

The event:

Publication of an IP. Reference to be confirmed.

The sources:

Ø MEMO/05/91

Ø IP/05/292

  • Infoclip available on "Consumer Health and Protection: child obesity" (images from a pediatric medecine centre) ((mediatheque number: I-049753) and an image bank: "European Year of Education through sport" (physical education classes) (mediatheque number: I-044048)
  • European Commission:

The contacts:
Philip Tod Tel :+32 2 296 5911; Nina Papadoulaki Tel :+32 2 298 6378

Wednesday 7th December: Biomass action plan and electricity from renewable sources

The news :

  • The Commission is to launch a Biomass Action Plan which will set out the steps it will take to tackle obstacles and promote greater use of biomass - wood, wastes and agricultural crops - for transport, heating and electricity generation.
  • The objectives are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase security of energy supply and promote economic activity, notably in rural areas.
  • The EU is committed to fulfilling its targets for renewable energy and the Biomass action plan is a key factor in achieving this.
  • The EU is aiming for 22% of electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2010, with an overall target of a 12% share of renewable energy use for all purposes.

The event:

Press conference at 1245 with Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Energy at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources:

Ø IP/05/959

Ø IP/04/681

Ø SPEECH/05/665 

Ø SPEECH/05/671

Ø SPEECH/05/155

  • Image bank on "Renewable Energies: biomass" (mediatheque number: I-049597)
  • European Commission:

The contacts:
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny Tel: +32 2 296 6293; Marilyn Carruthers Tel: +32 2 299 9451

Wednesday 7th December: Connecting major trans-European axes with neighbouring regions

The news:

  • Under the presidency of former Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, a High Level Group will make proposals to the Commission on how to improves connections between the EU and neighbouring countries.
  • The Commission established this Group following evidence that existing transport connections between the enlarged EU and its neighbours did not reflect the new geopolitical situation following enlargement.
  • The measures are part of the Commission's sustainable development strategy.
  • By 2020, the volume of inter-regional land freight traffic between the EU and its neighbours s expected to grow by more than 100%.
  • In addition to representatives of the EU members state, the High Level Group includes representatives from the neighbouring countries and regions.

The event:

Press conference at 1215 with Vice-President Jacques Barrot and Loyola De Palacio, President of the High Level Group at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources:

Ø IP/04/1248

Ø IP/05/1162

  • European Commission:

The contacts :
Stefaan De Rynck Tel :+32 2 29 9 9279; Marja Quillinan-Meilland Tel :+32 2 99 4014

Wednesday 7th December: Visit of the Russian Government

The news:

  • Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and other members of the Russian Government will visit the European Commission on 7 December for meetings with President Barroso and other Commissioners.
  • Talks are expected to give impetus to the implementation of the road maps for the common economic spaces (energy, climate change, cooperation on regulatory and trade-related issues.)
  • They will also discuss the future legal basis of the EU-Russian relationship and other international issues.
  • The visit mirrors a similar visit in April 2004, when there was a Commission visit to the Russian government in Moscow.

The event:

VIP corner at 1345 with President José Manuel Barroso and Prime Minister Mikhail Frakdkov at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources:

Ø IP/05/138

Ø IP/05/1263

Ø IP/05/1218

Ø IP/05/375

Ø European Commission :

The contacts:
Emma Udwin Tel : + 32 2 295 9577; Christina Mueschen Tel : + 32 2 298 0373; Ewa Haczyk Tel : + 32 2 299 9170

Thursday 8th Dec.: Latin America, a key partner for the EU

The news:

  • The Commission is to inject new impetus into its partnership with Latin America, established in 1999 at the Rio Summit.
  • To encourage economic growth, two priorities have been identified: on the one hand, social cohesion, and on the other, support for regional integration organisation such as Mercosur or the more recent South American Community of Nations.
  • Various pathways are being examined. Based on its experience, the EU wants to reinforce stability and security in the region. If asked by the countries concerned, it could play a more active role in the prevention of conflicts and the management of crises in Latin America.
  • On the economic front, Europe is a key partner for the development of Latin American industry. The EU intends to increase investment and to play an important role in scientific and technological co-operation.
  • The EU is the leading investor in Latin America (90 billion euros in 2003), its second trading partner and its leading fund donor. EU aid to the region has increased year on year, reaching 314 million euros in 2004.

The event:
Information available in the press room.

The sources:

Ø MEMO/05/173

Ø MEMO/04/124 

Ø MEMO/04/120 

Ø IP/04/674

Ø IP/04/675

Ø IP/05/1081

  • Image bank on "EU-Latin American and Carribean relations (mediatheque number: I-039405)
  • European Commission :

The contacts:
Emma Udwin Tel : + 32 2 295 9577; Concha Fernández de la Puente Tel : + 32 2 295 2977

Thursday 8th December: Urban Policy Paper

The news:

  • Following the adoption of the Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion (COM/05/299) strong emphasis has been given to sustainable urban development which integrates economic, social and environmental goals, high quality public service and a central role for local partnerships including public, private, voluntary and community interests.
  • Ministers from the 25 Member States as well as acceding and candidate countries discuss in Bristol (6-7 December 2005) how to tackle this integrated approach to urban issues.
  • Commissioner Danuta Hübner will also make the link between the informal Council discussions and the present state of play concerning Financial Perspectives and Cohesion policies financing.
  • Highlights of a European-wide “Urban Audit“ will also be presented by the Commissioner.

The event:

Press Conference at 1215 with Commissioner Danuta Hübner on the new urban policy as presented in the Commission working paper “Cohesion Policy and cities : the urban contribution to growth and jobs in the regions.”

The sources:

Ø IP/05/850

  • European Commission :


Ø doc. COM/05/299


The contacts:
Ana-Paula Laissy Tel :+32 2 295 3258; Constantina Avraam Tel :+32 2 295 9667

Friday 9th December: Research and Development Scoreboard

The news:

  • The Commission is to publish its annual scoreboard for industrial research and development.
  • The scoreboard of industrial R&D gives figures and analysis relating to business investment in R&D in the EU and the rest of the world.
  • The EU has set itself the target of investing 3% of its GDP in R&D by 2010, with two-thirds coming from the private sector. Currently investment stands at just under 2%, with the private sector accounting for about 55%.
  • This is why the European Commission recently proposed 19 areas for action to encourage businesses to invest more.
  • The scoreboard will give the latest figures for such investment as well as an analysis of the type of investment being made.

The event:
Press conference at 1215 tbc with Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Science and Research at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources:

Ø MEMO/05/366

Ø IP/05/973

Ø MEMO/04/295

The contacts:
Antonia Mochan Tel : +32 2 296 9921; Marilyn Carruthers Tel :+32 2 299 9451

Monday 12th December: Road map for the European Automobile industry

The news :

  • CARS 21 will present its recommendations for the automobile industry in the 21st century.
  • CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st century) is a high level group under the presidency of Commissioner Verheugen. It will bring together prominent figures from the EU automobile industry, representatives of Member States, MEPs, trade unions, NGOs, consumers and the Commission.
  • CARS 21 will adopt a road map establishing the public policy measures to be adopted by the automobile industry over the next decade.
  • As part of the Lisbon Strategy, the CARS 21 group will make recommendations to improve the competitiveness of the European automobile industry on a global level.
  • The road map will contain concrete measures to stimulate job growth in the automobile sector The overall aim is to provide a stable regulatory environment that will enhance employment and the global competitiveness of the sector, while sustaining further progress in safety and environmental performance. These aims must be achieved at a price affordable to the consumer with a reduction in bureaucratic red tape.
  • The EU is the world’s biggest producer of automobiles: 34% are made in Europe. The automobile sector represents 3% of EU GDP and 7.5% of its industrial manufacturing and 10 million jobs.

The event :
Press Conference at 1300 tbc with Vice-President Gunter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources :

Ø SPEECH/05/580 (in German)

Ø IP/05/480  

Ø MEMO/05/117

Ø IP/05/220

Ø IP/05/31

  • European Commission :

  • 2004 report on European performance in competitiveness and innovation in EU industry :

The contacts :
Gregor Kreuzhuber Tel :+32 2 296 6565; Catherine Bunyan Tel :+32 2 299 6512

Tuesday 13th December: Sustainable Development - renewing the EU’s commitment

The news :

  • The first EU Sustainable Development Strategy was agreed in Göteborg in 2001. Europeans value quality of life, they want a clean environment, social protection, prosperity and equity. They wish for their children and grandchildren to grow up and live in a world that is both safer and more inclusive.
  • This requires effective responses to global warming, the way we use the earth’s limited resources and the growing gap between rich and poor. We need to produce and consume in smarter ways, uncover new, more sustainable ways of growing and boosting economic activity while accelerating the changeover to less polluting energy sources. We need new and alternative sources of energy, better ways of working with the earth’s resources, more efficient transport of people and of goods and a more inclusive global society.
  • President Barroso’s message is, that with change and innovation, it can be done.
  • The EU, along with governments, must be part of the solution. But sustainable development cannot only be about what the EU and governments can do. Businesses and citizens have an important role when it comes to finding new and innovative ways to address the challenges and seize the opportunities. The EU cannot address global challenges alone, but it is willing to lead and set an example, with a renewed Sustainable Development Strategy.

The event :

Adoption by the Commission of a Communication on a renewed EU strategy for Sustainable Development.

The sources :

Ø SPEECH/05/671

Ø SPEECH/05/659

Ø SPEECH/05/232 

Ø IP/05/604 

The contacts :
Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen Tel :+32 2 295 3070

Tuesday 13th -19th Dec.: WTO Doha Development Agenda Ministerial Hong Kong

The news :

  • WTO Member States will meet in Hong Kong to push forward negotiations in the Doha Development Agenda.
  • The European Union will propose a development package for adoption, including a large new package of Trade related Assistance; greater flexibility in the negotiations for the poorest developing countries; agreement on permanent flexibility for Least Developed Countries on compulsory licenses for treating pandemic diseases and the extension of tariff and quota free market access from all developed countries to all Least Developed Countries.

The event :

Daily press conferences at the Hong Kong Ministerial 13th -19th December.

The sources :

Ø MEMO/05/452

Ø MEMO/05/400

Ø IP/05/1495

Ø IP/05/1443

Ø IP/05/1358

Ø SPEECH/05/747

The contacts :
Peter Power Tel: +32 498 9 80348, Michael Mann Tel: +32 498 9 99780, Stephen Adams Tel: +32 498 9 63166, Johan Reyniers Tel: +32 498 9 56728

Wednesday 14th December : Facilitating trans-border maintenance payments

The news :

  • The Commission wants to extend the recognition and enforcement of child-maintenance orders across the European Union, regardless of the Member State origin of the order.
  • Recovering maintenance payments presents a number of challenges : in some cases, up to 50% within a single country are not honoured.
  • This problem is exaggerated when the maintenance payments are owed by individuals in a different country from the beneficiary.
  • As family structures change, tens of thousands of people are concerned by this across the EU.
  • The Commission will initiate reforms to improve cooperation between national authorities and to simplify citizens’ access to enforcement measures for maintenance payments by establishing minimum common EU standards.

The event :
Technical briefing tbc.

The sources :

  • Green paper on maintenance obligations:

Ø IP/04/527

The contacts :
Friso Roscam Abbing Tel : + 32 2 296 6746; Constantina Avraam Tel : + 32 2 295 9667

14th and 16th December: Is there a European “brain drain”? Doing more for research in Europe

The news :

  • The Commission wants to improve the climate for research and researchers in Europe.
  • A vibrant research sector is vital in order to attain the Lisbon objectives for growth and jobs: Europe must become the world’s most competitive and innovative knowledge-based economy.
  • A presentation on 14th December will highlight the measures put in place to support researchers working in Europe and to attract researchers from the across the globe.
  • These measures include: the “Researchers in Europe 2005” campaign, Marie Curie scholarships to support mobility, the Era-More network of mobility centres to help researchers find jobs and deal with moving within the EU , the acceleration of the visa-application process, special admission procedures for non-European researchers and the publication of a code of conduct and European charter for researchers.
  • On Friday 16th December, France’s largest research organisation, CNRS, will commit itself to implementing the code of conduct and charter for researchers, thus guaranteeing individual researchers the same rights and duties across the EU and ensuring transparent and fair recruitment.
  • 700, 000 extra researchers are needed to reach the objective of 3% of GDP through research.
  • The number of researchers increased by 5.7 per 1000 in 2001, lagging far behind the U.S. (8.1) and Japan (9.1) whose investment is greater.

The event :
Technical briefing at 1115 on 14th December in the press room of the Berlaymont in Brussels. Ceremony on 16th December for the signature by CNRS of the code of conduct and charter for European researchers at the press room in the Berlaymont, Brussels at 10.30 (time to be confirmed) in the presence of Commissioner Janez Potočnik and the director of CNRS. Available on Europe-by-Satellite.

The sources :

Ø IP/05/282

Ø IP/05/674

Ø IP/05/200

Ø IP/05/1253  

Ø SPEECH/05/685 

  • European Commission :

The contacts :
Antonia Mochan Tel.: +32 2 296 9921; Marilyn Carruthers Tel :+32 2 299 9451

Wednesday 21st December: Action plan on legal migration

The news :

  • The Hague Programme of November 2004 asked the Commission to take into account the results of the public consultation on an EU approach to managing economic migration: together with the best practices in the Member States as a basis for “a policy plan on legal migration, including admission procedures capable of responding promptly to fluctuating demands for migrant labour in the labour market” to be adopted before the end of 2005.
  • This Policy Plan does not contain any legislative or operational proposal. ¨The Plan defines a road-map for the remaining period of The Hague Programme (2006-2009) and lists the actions and legislative initiatives that the Commission intends to take, so as to pursue the consistent development of the EU legal migration policy.
  • As an effective immigration policy cannot be limited to instruments for the admission of labour immigrants, the Plan will also put forward initiatives to be developed in other equally important areas, i.e. knowledge building and information, integration of third-country nationals and cooperation with Countries of origin.

The event :

Press conference at 1230 with Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security at the Berlaymont in Brussels.

The sources :

Ø IP/05/16

  • Image bank on "Immigration" (mediatheque number: I-047743).
  • European Commission :

The contacts :
Friso Roscam Abbing Tel : + 32 2 296 6746; Constantina Avraam Tel : + 32 2 295 9667

Wednesday 21st December: The future of the European environment

The news :

  • The Commission will continue to launch its ambitious strategy for safeguarding the EU environment.
  • Following the launch of strategies for air pollution and the Marine Environment in September and October, a new package of two further measures is to be unveiled.
  • Sustainable use of natural resources: the Commission wants to reduce the environmental impacts associated with resource use and to do so in a growing economy. We need to be more efficient in our consumption of resources, and we must encourage practical innovation wherever possible.
  • Waste management: the EU must become a recycling society – where recycling is the default option, energy recovery has its place, and landfill is only used as a last resort. For this to happen EU waste policy must be modernised and widened in the light of new knowledge. The strategy aims to create the right regulatory environment for recycling activities to develop further. Companies and public authorities need to take a life-cycle approach that takes account of how waste policies can most efficiently reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with the use of resources through preventing, recycling and recovering wastes.
  • These two new strategies are part of the EU’s 6th Environment Action Plan, which will steer EU environmental policy in the years to come.
  • The final three components of this plan will be launched in the new year. They will address the use of pesticides, our urban environment and soil.
  • The Commission’s strategic outlook demonstrates its intention to co-operate fully with all Member States and NGOs concerned by environmental matters.

The event :

Press Conference Stavros Dimas Commissioner for the Environment, at the Berlaymont in Brussels. Press conference available on Europe-by-Satellite. Time tbc.

The sources :

Ø IP/05/1335

Ø IP/05/1170

Ø MEMO/05/334

  • European Commission Site :

The contacts :
Barbara Helfferich Tel :+32 2 29 8 2010; Lone Mikkelsen Tel :+32 2 29 6 0567

Wednesday 21st December: Cutting pollution by road vehicles

The news :

  • Improving the energy efficiency and reducing polluting emissions of our vehicles is of crucial importance given the twin challenges of the Kyoto Protocol and the rise in petrol prices.
  • The Commission is to propose two sets of measures in order to meet the commitments made by the EU.
  • The first will set the technical criteria necessary for the approval and circulation of vehicles in the single market. Other aims of the project include a limitation on exhaust emissions by light utility vehicles and a definition of the technical criteria for hybrid cars.
  • Known as “Euro 5“, the goal of the project is to reduce particle emissions by diesel vehicles by 80% and Nitrous oxide emissions by 20%.
  • The second series of measures aims to encourage the use of new technologies and the creation of a market for clean vehicles.
  • The Commission believes that public organisms must lead by example and that this should have a significant impact on orders received by the automobile industry and the stimulation of the market.
  • Transportation accounts for 26% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU, of which 85% comes from road vehicles. Without co-ordinated and vigorous action, carbon dioxide emissions from road traffic could increase by 40% by 2010.

The event :
Press conference with Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for Transport, at the Berlaymont in Brussels. Time tbc.

The sources :

  • European Commission :

Ø IP/05/938

Ø IP/04/195

Ø IP/03/1701

The contacts :
Gregor Kreuzhuber Tel : +32 2 296 6565; Stefaan De Rynck Tel :+32 2 299 9279; Catherine Bunyan Tel : + 32 2 299 6512; Marja Quillinan-Meiland Tel : + 32 2 299 4014

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