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Brussels, 16th June 2006

Top News from the European Commission
19 June – 19 July

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s group FAO journalists

Monday 19th June : European Fisheries Funds 2007-2013

The news :

  • The Fisheries Ministers from the 25 EU Member States will formally adopt the new European Fisheries Fund for the period 2007-2013. This Fund will replace the current Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), due to end in December 2006.
  • The new funding will help implement measures aimed at securing sustainable fisheries and diversifying economic activities in fishing areas.
  • Established in 1993, FIFG plays a crucial role in facilitating the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. It provides support for structural measures in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and in the processing and marketing of their products as well as promoting the restructuring of the fisheries sector.
  • The budget for the EFF will amount to 3.8 billion euros for the whole period. The objective is to help reduce fishing pressure to allow the recovery of fish stocks and encourage the use of more environmentally-friendly gear and practices in fishing and aquaculture and in the processing and marketing of fisheries products.
  • EFF will also provide aid for fishing regions most affected by job losses to help them diversify and strengthen their economic base.

The event :

Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg. Press conference by Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg and Austrian Minister Josef Proell, in the Council press room. Time (tbc). Publication of an IP and a Questions and Answers MEMO.

The sources :

  • European Commission websites :

The contacts :

Mireille Thom + 32 2 299 1630 ; Lone Mikkelsen + 32 2 296 0567

Mon 19th June – Wed 21st June : Aerodays marking advancements in research

The news :

  • The fifth Community Aeronautics Days event is to take place in Vienna. With up to 1,000 participants expected, this is a key event for European research and technology in the fields of aeronautics and transport.
  • The aim of the three day event is to allow for top-level exchanges on advancements in the field of aeronautics research. A series of conferences, excursions and exhibitions will offer an insight into planned and on-going projects of the European Research Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6) and national and international aeronautics research.
  • Environmental issues, safety and security of passengers and the future of air transport in a time of ever-increasing worldwide mobility, as well as strategies for working towards the co-ordinated implementation of the Strategic Research Agenda developed by the Aeronautics Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) will be identified.
  • The seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7) is in its final stages and EC representatives will be outlining the current state of play in relation to the programme. Aerodays will play an important role for stakeholders to contribute to the direction European-funded research in aeronautics will take in the next seven years. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will also be part of the discussions, taking into account the vital role they play in the supply chain of this industry.
  • Finally, Europe’s role as a major player in research and technology along side America, Asia and Africa will also be discussed at the various planned events. There is a specific media programme, with briefings on topics such as safe and secure skies; cleaner and greener air transport; and increasing efficiency. There will also be trips arranged to local aeronautic research facilities.

The event :
Aeronautics Days 2006 will be held under the Austrian Presidency at the Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna. Press lunch with European Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik , Austrian Vice-Chancellor Hubert Gorbach and Members of the European Parliament. Journalists interested in attending the event can find all the relevant information to register at : 

The sources :

  • European Commission website :

  • Aerodays website :

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

Wednesday 21st June : EU-US Summit in Vienna

The news :

  • President Barroso and President George Bush along with the Austrian Chancellor Schüssel, Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Mandelson, Austrian Foreign Minister Plassnik and the Secretary of State, Condoleza Rice will meet at the EU – US summit in Vienna.
  • The four issues likely to be discussed at the Summit will be foreign policy co-operation, energy security, economy and trade, and global challenges. In the area of foreign policy relations with Iran, the Middle East and the promotion democracy are expected to dominate the agenda.
  • Leaders are expected to adopt a very substantial Summit Declaration, and to endorse political and economic progress reports on achievements made since the last Summit in 2005.

The event :
Leaders of both sides of the Atlantic will meet for a working session in the morning of June 21st followed by a working lunch.
A Press conference by Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Austrian Chancellor and EU President in office, Wolfgang Schüssel and US President Geroge W. Bush is planned for June 21st at 14.30.
The renewed EU-US Agreement on Higher Education and Training by Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austrian Foreign Minister and Council President in office, Ursula Plassnik and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to be signed at a ceremony on June 21st at 10.30.
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :

  • European Commission websites :

The contacts :
Emma Udwin + 32 2 295 9577 ; Concha Fernandez de la Puente + 32 2 295 2977 ; Pietro Petrucci + 32 2 298 9492

Thursday 22nd June: Action plan aimed at reducing animal testing

The news :

  • Around 10.7 million animals per year are used for testing (2002). More than half of these are used in research and development for human medicine, dentistry, and in fundamental biology studies. About 16% in production and quality control of products and devices in human medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry and about 10% for toxicological and other safety evaluation. From this 10% about 0.25% (+/- 2600 animals) was used for toxicological or other safety evaluations of products/substances used or intended to be used mainly as cosmetics or toiletries.
  • A year ago the “European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing” was initiated by the Commission to promote alternative approaches to animal testing. This group, which is a partnership between the Commission, industry associations and major companies, is expected to publish an action programme with the aim of refining reducing and replacing animal use to meet regulatory safety requirements.
  • In addition, the Commission intends to publish new guidelines for labelling cosmetic products as “not tested on animals”. The new guidelines will allow manufacturers to indicate that no animal tests have been carried out by the manufacturer and his suppliers in the development of the product. There will be common criteria for the use of such claims, in particular to ensure that they do not mislead the consumer or lead to unfair competition

The event:
IP on the day.

The sources :

- IP/05/1375

- IP/03/662

The contacts :
Gregor Kreuzhuber +32 2 29 66565 ; Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 29 96512

Thursday 22nd June : A transport policy for Europe’s citizens

The news :

  • The Commission adopted the White Paper "European Transport Policy for 2010 : Time to Decide" on September 12th 2001.
  • In this White Paper, the Commission proposed a plan of action for the improvement of the quality and efficiency of European transport. One of the aims of the paper, was to increase ten-fold the progressive rise in mobility and of economic growth, in order to reduce the pressure being put on the environment, all while maintaining the economic competitiveness of the European Union.
  • The Commission thus proposed almost sixty measures for developing a transport policy for European transport.
  • In the Communication, which is to be adopted on June 22nd, the Commission will make a mid-term assessment of the implementation of these measures.

The event :
Press conference by Vice-president Jacques Barrot in the Berlaymont press room at 1.00 (tbc).
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :

- IP/01/1263

  • European Commission website :

The contacts :
Stefaan De Rynck + 32 2 299 9279 ; Marja Quillinan-Meiland + 32 2 299 4014

Thursday 22nd June : Reform of the European wine sector

The news :

  • The European Commission will adopt a Communication setting out four different options for the future of the European Union’s Common Market Organisation for wine.
  • Europe is by far the biggest producer (world production: 270 million hl - EU part: 6O%) and exporter (world exports: 67 million hl - EU part: more than 60%) of wine.
  • But while EU exports are still growing, ‘New World’ exports are increasing much faster, especially to those European countries where consumers are drinking more wine.
  • Europe is also left with large quantities of wine for which there is no outlet. As a result, we spend too much money - around half a billion euros a year – on measures to dispose of, store and distil wine surpluses into alcohol.
  • This money could be more usefully spent on improving market balance, boosting quality and promoting sales of European wines.
  • EU winegrowers are also hamstrung by over-complex rules on wine-making practices and labelling, which also confuse consumers.
  • The reform must:
  • Increase the competitiveness of the EU’s wine producers, strengthen the reputation of EU quality wine as the best in the world, recover old markets and win new ones in the EU and worldwide;
  • Create a wine regime that operates through clear, simple rules - effective rules that ensure balance between supply and demand;
  • Create a wine regime that preserves the best traditions of EU wine production and reinforces the social and environmental fabric of many rural areas.
  • The Commission is not advocating reducing the annual budget for wine – around 1.2 billion euros – but using it more intelligently.
  • Following a thorough debate on the Communication, the Commission will publish legislative proposals in December or January.

The event :
Adoption of the Communication by the College. Presentation to the European Parliament. Press conference by Commissioner Fischer Boel. An IP, a memo, an information pack and a video presentation will be issued.
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :

  • European Commission website :
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Infoclip : I-051308
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Images bank : I-051269

The contacts :

Michael Mann + 32 2 299 9780 ; Johan Reyniers + 32 2 295 6728

Thursday 22nd June: Report on practical preparations for further enlargement of the euro area

The news :

  • The Commission is to review the current state of the practical preparations for the adoption of the euro in the countries with a so-called “derogation” i.e. the countries that became members of the European Union in 2004 plus Sweden.
  • The third of its kind since the EU’s last enlargement, the report puts a particular emphasis on Slovenia in view of its expected adoption of the euro next January.
  • The report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area is separate from the convergence reports in which the Commission reviews periodically, or at the request of a Member state, whether the Maastricht criteria are met for the adoption of the euro.
  • This report looks at euro changeover plans and scenarios concerning practical issues such as the target date for introducing the euro, the length of the period during which the legacy currency will circulate alongside the euro, when banks and retailers will receive euro cash and how many euro kits will be available beforehand so that consumers have cash to carry out their first purchases on D-day.
  • The European Monetary Union was created in 1999 when the exchange rate of the currencies of 12 EU countries was irrevocably fixed to the euro. The euro notes and coins were introduced three years later, on January 1st 2002. The countries that joined the EU in 2004 all plan to introduce the euro in a so-called ‘big bang’ scenario. All but Poland have set themselves a target date for adopting the euro which presently ranges from 2007 to 2010.
  • Separately, the Commission is also expected to propose the rate at which the tolar will be converted into the euro as well as a few necessary changes to existing legislation. The tolar joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERMII) on June 28th 2004 at the central rate of 239.640 units to the euro. As the Commission stated in its Convergence Report on Slovenia of May 16th, the tolar-euro exchange rate has stayed close to the central rate with maximum variations of roughly 0.1% both up and down.

The event :
Publication of a MEMO.

The sources :

- IP/05/1371

- IP/06/623

  • European Commission websites :

The contacts :

Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629 ; Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925

Monday 26th June : Green paper to look at drug use in society

The news :

  • In an effort to address drug use, the Commission is to launch a Green Paper entitled the Consultation of Civil Society in the Drugs Field. This will see the launch of a consultation process which will give citizens who use or drugs or those affected by drug use an opportunity to voice their views.
  • A wide range of organisations and NGOs will also be invited to make their opinions and experiences known. The consultation period will start on July and should and will run until the end of September.
  • The Commission and the European Monitoring centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) will then use the collected data and information as a basis for their future policies, allowing them to address the problems drugs cause in society with an updated knowledge of the social, political, medical, aspects of the drug problem.
  • Drug consumption and deaths as a result of drug use are currently at an all time high and show little sign of coming down. It is estimated that in any given month 1.5 million Europeans use cocaine and 12 million use cannabis. Three million use it on an almost daily basis. One fifth of requests for treatment are now related to cannabis, placing it second only to heroin.
  • Polydrug use, which is basically the systematic and intensive mixing of drugs, often with alcohol is a growing problem throughout Europe. Ecstasy, produced in Europe, is now the second most commonly used drug after cannabis. According to the EMCDDA, up to 8 % of young people in some Member States use cannabis on a regular basis.

The event :
Press conference with Vice-président Franco Frattini and (tbc) Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Markos Kyprianou.
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :

- IP/05/1462

- IP/05/791

  • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) website :

The contacts:
Friso Roscam Abbing + 32 2 296 6746; Riccardo Mosca + 32 2 296 1404

Tuesday 27th June : Commission launches public consultation on organ donation in the EU

The news :

  • The Commission is to launch a public consultation aimed at identifying the main problems encountered when it comes to organ donation and transplantation. The consultation invites ideas that could help solve these problems and hopes to determine the extent to which measures in this area should be taken at EU level.
  • Organ transplantation began in the 1950’s when the first kidney transplants were carried out. Over the years the number of organ donations and transplantations has risen significantly with positive results in terms of life years gained and improvements in quality of life. Today, organ transplantation is the most effective treatment for end-stage renal, liver, lung and heart failure.
  • However, the access to and the quality of this life-saving treatment varies from one Member State to the other as national requirements with regard to safety and quality procedures vary widely. Moreover, the scarcity and uneven distribution of legally donated organs encourages illegal practices, such as human organ trafficking.

The event :
Publication of an IP.
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :
- European Commission website :
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Infoclip “Health and Consumer Protection : organ donation”

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

Wednesday 28th June : Evaluation of the Hague Programme

The news :

  • In response to the December 2004 European Council request to the Commission to report in 2006 "to the European Council on the progress made and to propose the necessary additions to the Hague Programme" in 2006, the Commission will now adopt three Communications.
  • The three Communications are entitled :
  • “Implementing The Hague Programme: a first policy review ;
  • "Strengthening Freedom, Security and Justice in the European Union: report on the implementation of The Hague Programme for the year 2005” ;
  • "The Evaluation of EU Policies on Freedom, Security and Justice" constitute the answer to the call made by the European Council.
  • The Hague Programme "Strengthening Freedom, Security and Justice in the European Union" was adopted by the European Council in November 2004 and fixed the priorities of the Commission in the area of freedom, security and justice for the five years that were to follow. The Commission then presented an Action Plan to the Council in which the aims and priorities of the Hague Programme were translated into concrete actions
  • Those priorities included : fundamental rights and citizenship, The fight against terrorism, migration management, internal borders, external borders and visas, a common asylum area, the impact of migration on our society and economy, privacy and security in sharing information, the fight against organised crime, civil and criminal justice, sharing responsibility and solidarity in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice.
  • Since the end of 2004, the Member States and the EU Institutions have worked to ensure the implementation of the programme in accordance with the Council and Commission Action Plan adopted in June 2005.
  • In the absence of the entry into force of the Constitutional Treaty, it is still necessary to draw up a first political assessment of progress made in implementing the Hague Programme and to propose the necessary adjustments.
  • The aim of this comprehensive package is thus not to identify new priorities compared to those set out by the Hague Programme but mainly (1) to take stock of the progress made, (2) to assess the level of implementation at EU and national level and (3) to propose a thorough evaluation of results.

The event :

Press conference with President Jose Manuel Barroso and Vice President France Frattini in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on Ebs

The sources :

- IP/05/546 MEMO/05/153

  • European Commission website :
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] I-047220 Police Cooperation; I-047744 Judicial Cooperation ; I- 047743 Asylum Immigration 2005; I-051273 Personal data protection 2006; I-042167 Enlargement of the Northern Borders ; I-043207 Enlargement of the Southern Borders
The contacts :
Friso Roscam Abbing + 32 2 296 67 46 ; Riccardo Mosca + 32 2 29 61 404

Wednesday 28th June – Sunday 2nd July : WTO Ministerial Green Room in Geneva
The news :

  • WTO Trade Ministers will meet in Geneva in late June to discuss a final deal on the current World Trade Round, which was kick-started in Doha in 2001.
  • Trade Ministers from around the world are working to conclude the Round by the end of 2006, having met in Hong Kong at the WTO Ministerial meeting in December 2005.
  • The EU's Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has been pressing hard for an ambitious and realistic outcome to the current Round. It is hoped that these talks will deliver fairer, open trade and bring the benefits of free trade to EU Member States and developing countries alike.
  • The EU's objective is to create opportunities for economic growth and market access, in particular for the poorest economies. To this end, the EU made a substantial offer of concrete tariff reductions in October 2004.
  • The main areas of negotiation are in agricultural tariffs, industrial tariffs, trade and development, trade in services and trade rules.

The event :
Press briefings during the negotiations (tbc) and an IP will be issued after the final meeting.

The sources :

- MEMO/06/116

  • European Commission website :

The contacts :
Peter Power + 32 498 980 348 ; Stephen Adams + 32 498 963 166

Thursday 29th June : Risk capital to unleash the full potential of European SMEs

The news :

  • The EU needs to become more innovative and innovation through the introduction of new products or improved production methods is neccessary to stay competitive. Closely related to a willingness to take risks and test out new ideas on the market, the availability of venture capital is crucial for innovation.
  • The success of Skype is one striking example of how access to finance at the early stages can lead to a major success for a new business. In the case of Skype, success was made possible by the European Commission's start up scheme “European Technology Facility” (ETF).
  • However, access to risk capital continues to hold back European innovators. European financial markets/institutions do not fully satisfy the financial needs of SMEs in particular when they are at their early growth stages.
  • The lack of an equity investment culture, informational problems and market volatility are amongst the main reasons for this market breakdown. Financing innovative SMEs is considered by many finance providers as a risky activity due to high transaction costs and low returns, predominantly in short-term scale.
  • On May 29th the Commission will come forward with a new approach which will set out a number of specific actions to create favourable conditions for more early-stage investments in innovative firms.
  • Europe needs a more open-orientated regulatory environment for venture capital investments and more bank finance for innovation. This Commission’s action is set within the general framework of the Lisbon Agenda for Growth and Jobs and will encourage sharing best practices with the EU.

The event :
Press conference Vice President Verheugen and CEO of a company which has benefited from financial support. IP and memo.
[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Available on EbS

The sources :

- IP/06/21

- MEMO/06/5

  • European Commission website :

The contacts :
Gregor Kreuzhuber + 32 2 29 665 65 ; Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 29 965 12

Monday 3rd July : European Commission meets with the Finnish Presidency of the Council

The news :

  • The Commission, represented by President José Manuel Barroso are to travel to Helsinki to meet the President of the Finnish Republic Tarja Halonen and the Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.
  • The aim of the meeting is to discuss what issues will be tackled during Finland’s six month Presidency. The accession of Bulgaria and Romania as well as the progress being made in terms of Croatia and Turkey, innovation and EU-Russia relations will be among the bigger projects on which the Finnish Presidency wants to progress.
  • The Finnish Presidency will officially start on July 1st 2006 and will run until December  31st 2006. Germany will then take over the Presidency followed by Portugal. Finland first had Presidency in the second half of 1999.

The event :
Press conference with José Manuel Barroso and the Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.

The sources :

  • Website of the Finnish Presidency :

[Graphic in PDF & Word format] Coverage by EbS

The contacts :
Johannes Laitenberger + 32 2 296 5745 ; Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen + 32  2 295 3070

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