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AGENDA/07/39

Brussels, Friday 9 November

Top News from the European Commission
12 November to 9 December 2007

Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes

Table of content is available in PDF and WORD

Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 November: Improving European businesses' performance through biodiversity

The news:

What can the EU do to mainstream biodiversity into corporate responsibility schemes? What can the EU do to strengthen methods and tools for biodiversity assessments? What can the EU do to encourage private investment in sustainable biodiversity businesses? Or what can the EU do to promote biodiversity patnerships with European businesses?

Under the Portuguese Presidency, business leaders, biodiversity experts, NGOs and policy makers, will return to Lisbon contribute to an improved understanding of the competitive advantages gained from conserving biodiversity and using biological resources sustainably.

The conference will provide guidance to the European Commission’s new initiative on business and biodiversity.

The background:

In 2000, in Lisbon, the EU Heads of State and Government agreed to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010”.

In 2001, the EU further committed to “halting biodiversity decline by 2010”.

In 2006, the European Commission launched a biodiversity communication, which included a commitment to engage the private sector in partnerships for biodiversity.

The event:

The conference will take place in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal

The sources:

Conference's website:

http://countdown2010.net/business

Commissioner Dimas' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/dimas/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 20 10 barbara.helfferich@ec.europa.eu

Lena De Visscher +32 2 296 36 94 lena.reuterberg@ec.europa.eu

Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 November: "From Early Warning to Early Action - Developing the European Union's Response to Crisis and Longer-Term Threats"

The news:

This conference builds on the 2005 modernisation of crisis response conference organised by the European Commission (DG Relex) in cooperation with President Ahtisaari’s Crisis Management Initiative. The event will assess the latest developments in EU conflict prevention, crisis management and crisis preparedness. It will consider how to improve the EU’s capacities in this area and will also address longer-term trans-regional threats.

The background:

Background: Some 100 speakers are scheduled to contribute to the discussions during the two days of this conference, among them EU Special Representatives, representatives of advocacy groups like International Crisis Group, Conciliation Resources, UN agencies like UNDP, UNESCO and World Bank as well as representatives of universities (Oxford, Ben Gurion) and media (ARTE, France 24).

The event:

The two day conference "From Early Warning to Early Action - Developing the European Union's Response to Crisis and Longer-Term Threats" will be opened by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy. The more than 800 participants come from the entire community of crisis responders. During the different sessions participants will have an opportunity to review priorities in crisis response and linkages to the EU’s long-term conflict prevention and peace-building efforts as well as to evaluate steps to improve tools and methodologies to assess, plan and respond to crisis.

The Conference is open to the press, however due to limited seating prior registration is requested. See separate Media Advisory published on 8 November 2007.

The sources:

Relex homepage on crisis management:

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/cfsp/cpcm/cm.htm

Homepage of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Christiane Hohmann +32 2 2991196 christiane.hohmann@ec.europa.eu

Jose Diez-Verdejo +32 2 2920900 jose.diez-verdejo@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 13 November: Commission to propose Single Market for Consumers of Telephone, Mobile and Internet Services

The news:

The Commission is scheduled to adopt, on 13 November, reform proposals for the EU telecom rules.

These rules are relevant for everybody, as they determine the availability, the quality and the prices of the communication services most citizens are using in their daily private and professional lives: mobile phones, internet connections, wireless broadband services, directory services, emergency numbers etc.

The background:

The Commission proposal is expected to include several fundamental changes:

New consumer rights such as the right to switch telecom operators within 1 day or improvements of the Single European Emergency Number 112

A "New Deal" for radio spectrum, the lifeblood of all wireless communication services, with the purpose of ensuring "broadband availability for everyone", including in the non-urban, rural and remote areas of the EU Member States. In the years to come, more radio spectrum will become available as a result of the switch off of analogue TV and the move to digital TV (the so-called digital dividend).

More competition, especially via the new remedy of functional separation of dominant telecom operators, that will be at the disposal of national regulators to ensure that more consumers profit from better, more affordable communication services

A European Telecom Market Authority that should help the Commission ensuring that important communication services (such as data roaming, Internet broadband access, mobile phone usage on airplanes and ships) are regulated better, more efficiently and more consistently across the 27 EU Member States in the interest of competition, cross-border service providers and consumer benefits; it should also help ensuring that regulation is coherent in the EU and not influenced by protectionist policies; and it should help the Commission to step up the fight against communication security breaches and virus attacks on Europe's communication networks.

The event:

12 November at 14.00: Technical briefing OFF THE RECORD in the Berlaymont press room (Brussels)

13 November at 16.00: Press conference by EU Telecoms Commissioner Reding in the press room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

  • Available on EbS and direct transmission to the Berlaymont press room.

Please register requests for TV, radio and other interviews as early as possible with mona.lund@ec.europa.eu

The sources:

SPEECH/07/86 - Towards a True Internal Market for Europe's Telecom Industry and Consumers – the Regulatory Challenges Ahead

SPEECH/07/624 - Better Regulation for a Single Market in Telecoms

SPEECH/07/644 - The digital dividend: towards a win-win situation for the media and telecommunication sectors

SPEECH/07/485 - Europe's telecommunications market ahead of the reform of the EU's regulatory framework

IP/07/1492 - Two speed broadband: Europe underlines regulatory problems to be addressed through reform

IP/07/1445 - Roaming: Consumer prices now reduced by 60%

IP/07/1077 - Telecoms: Regulatory supervision delivers results but a truly single market is still far away

MEMO/07/378 - La Commissaire européenne des télécommunications, Viviane Reding, rencontre Paul Champsaur, le Président de l'Autorité de Régulation française

MEMO/07/367 - Commissioner Reding meets the Chief Telecom Regulator of Greece, Nikitas Alexandridis

MEMO/07/410 - Commissioner Reding meets the Italian Telecoms Regulator AGCOM

INFSO website on the telecom reform:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/index_en.htm

Commissioner Reding's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/reding/index_en.htmThe contacts:

Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 1230 Martin.SELMAYR@ec.europa.eu

Mona Lund +32 2 299 9020 Mona.Lund@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 14 November: EU crackdown on airline ticket selling websites

The news:

The European Commission will present the result of the airline website sweep which was launched in 14 countries during the week of September 24-28 to investigate if airline ticket-selling Web sites complied with EU consumer laws on pricing and unfair contract terms.

The background:

The 'Consumer Sweep' is a new type of enforcement action launched by the European Commission under the Consumer Protection Co-operation Regulation which came into force at the beginning of the year.

The aim of this action is to promote enforcement of consumer rights in Member States. It is the first joint EU action of its kind.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Meglena Kuneva in the Berlaymont's press room in Brussels at 12.30.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Commissioner Kuneva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kuneva/index_en.htmThe contact:

Helen Kearns +32 2 298 7638 helen.kearns@ec.europa.eu

Monday 19 November: Beyond GDP, which indicators measure progress?

The news:

The European Commission together with the European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and WWF will host a high-level conference with the objective of clarifying which indicators are most appropriate to measure progress, and how these can best be integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate. The conference will bring together high-level experts and policy makers to address these critical issues. Over 300 people from economic, social and environmental spheres will attend.

Preceding the main political conference, an expert workshop will be held, where leading practitioners will consider progress in the development and policy application of indicators of progress, true wealth, and well-being.

The background:

GDP is the best-recognised measure of economic performance in the world, often used as a generic indicator of progress. However, the relationship between economic growth as measured by GDP and other dimensions of societal progress is not straightforward. Effectively measuring progress, wealth and well-being requires indices that are as clear and appealing as GDP but more inclusive than GDP—ones that incorporate social and environmental issues. This is especially important given global challenges such as climate change, global poverty, pressure on resources and their potential impact on societies.

The event:

Conference on 19 – 20 November 2007, in the European Parliament Hemicycle, Brussels.

The sources:

Beyond GDP website:

http://www.beyond-gdp.eu/

Commissioner Dimas' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/dimas/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 20 10 barbara.helfferich@ec.europa.eu

Lena De Visscher +32 2 296 36 94 lena.reuterberg@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 20 November: A Single Market for 21st Century Europe (including Services of general interest and social services of general interest: a European commitment)

The news:

Based on the results of its review of the single market and on wide consultation, the Commission will adopt a major strategic package aiming to modernise the single market and ensure that it delivers even more results for consumers and SMEs.

There will be a particular emphasis on further developing the single market as a driver for innovation, as springboard for businesses entering global markets, as an attractive location for investors and as a global rules and standards setter. A series of concrete policy initiatives will be announced as part of the package, along with proposals to better publicise the opportunities offered to citizens by the single market and to better assist them to take advantage of those opportunities.

A strong social and environmental dimension will underpin the whole package. It will notably include a follow-up to the 2004 White Paper on Services of General Interest and to the 2006 Communication on Social Services of General Interest. In the area of social services, e.g. social housing, childcare, support for families and persons in need, the package will announce initiatives aiming to clarify the implementation of Community rules and help public authorities, service providers and users to better understand and apply them.

The background:

An interim report submitted to the Spring European Council in February 2007 set out as follows the key principles on which the package to be adopted on 13 November is based.

The single market should become:

more impact-driven and result-oriented: the EU should act when markets do not deliver and where it will have maximum impact; it should better anticipate the effects of structural adjustment and assess its consequences.

more effective: a more diverse and flexible mix of instruments should be employed, finding the right balance between harmonisation and mutual recognition of rules, and other tools such as self- and co-regulation.

more decentralised and network-based: Brussels cannot deliver alone. Ownership of the single market in the Member States and the cooperation between the national and EU level need to be improved.

more responsive to the global context: a well functioning single market is essential to shape globalisation to Europe's advantage, and to allow its companies to compete.

more accessible and better communicated: a lot can be done for instance through hands-on problem-solving mechanisms such as SOLVIT.

The event:

Press conference by President Barroso in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels at 12.30.

Further press conferences and technical briefings to be confirmed.

The sources:

IP/06/595 - Delivering results for Europe: Commission calls for citizens' agenda

IP/07/214 - A vision for the single market of the 21st century

IP/06/529 - Commission addresses specificities of social services

MEMO/06/170 - Communication from the Commission on Social services of general interest

More information on the White Paper on services of general interest

http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l23013b.htm

European Commission website "A citizen's agenda":

http://ec.europa.eu/citizens_agenda/single_market_review/index_en.htm

President Barroso's Video blog:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/multimedia/vlog/index_fr.htm

Commissioner Mc Creevy's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/mccreevy/index_fr.htm

Commissioner Spidla's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/spidla/news_en.cfm

  • Infoclip and memoclip are available

The contacts:

Johannes Laitenberger +32 2 296 545 johannes.laitenberger@ec.europa.eu

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 2421oliver.drewes@ec.europa.eu

Katharina von Schnurbein + 32 2 298 1408 katharina.von-schnurbein@ec.europa.eu

Mark English +32 2 296 2410 mark.english@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 20 November: Preparing for the "health check" of the CAP reform

The news:

The Commission will publish a Communication setting out its ideas for possible improvements to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the so-called "health check".

The main questions it asks are:

- How to make the Single Payment Scheme more effective, efficient and simple?

- How to render market support instruments, originally conceived for a Community of six Member States, still relevant in a more and more globalised world and an EU of twenty-seven?

- How to master new challenges, from climate change to growth in biofuels and water management, by adapting to the new risks and opportunities?

The Communication will be sent to the Council and Parliament for discussion and will be followed by legal proposals in spring 2008.

The background:

The 2003/2004 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduced decoupled direct payments and strengthened Rural Development Policy.

This process continued with reforms in the sectors of sugar (2006) and fruit and vegetables (2007), and is ongoing with the recent legal proposals for the reform of the wine sector.

For the CAP to continue to be a policy of the present and of the future, it needs to be able to evaluate its instruments, to test whether they function as they are meant to do, and consequently to identify any adjustments needed to meet the stated objectives, being able to adapt to new challenges as they emerge.

The event:

Adoption of a Communication.

Press conference by Commissioner Fischer Boel in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels - time tbc.

  • Available at EbS
  • Archived stockshots are available

A press release will be issued

The sources:

Speech/07/533 – Speech by Commissioner Fischer Boel on the future of the CAP and Rural Development.

European Commission website on the CAP reform:

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/capreform/index_en.htm

Commissioner Fischer Boel's blog:

http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/blog_fischerboel/

The contacts:

Michael Mann+32 2 299 97 80 michael.mann@ec.europa.eu

Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28 johan.reyniers@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 21 November: EU Economy - 2007 Review

The news:

Each autumn, the European Commission publishes a comprehensive report on recent and prospective economic trends in the European Union. The EU Economy Review also regularly studies specific topics of particular importance for economic policies. Last year it focused on the issue of dynamic adjustment in the euro area based on experience in the last eight years since the creation of the euro.

The background:

The EU Economy 2007 Review provides an in-depth analysis of labour productivity trends. Productivity is the main driver of economic growth in the long term. Over the last two decades productivity has been on a decreasing trend in the EU and became lower than in many of its partner economies. Therefore, tackling the root causes of slow productivity is one of the most pressing policy challenges in the EU. The decline in labour productivity growth appears to have come to a halt. The report will seek to answer the question whether this pick up in productivity is structural in nature or may be merely a result of the economic recovery. The Communication adopted by the college highlights areas where progress appears indispensable for further fostering productivity.

The event:

Technical briefing + intervention by Commissioner Almunia at the EP's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (to be confirmed).

The sources:

To see the evolution of labour productivity in the EU, including individual members, and a comparison with the US and Japan, see table 23, p143, of the Autumn economic forecasts published today:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/forecasts_en.htm

Previous (2006) EU Economy Review:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2006/the_eu_economy_review2006_en.htm

Commissioner Almunia's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/almunia/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629 amelia.torres@ec.europa.eu

Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925 marisa.gonzalez-iglesias@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 22 November: New 2006 seizures on "Drug precursors" used in the illicit drug production

The news:

The Commission will present the 2006 statistics of precursor seizures/stopped shipments.

New 2006 seizures show that the scale of the problem is immense. Even for small amounts of seizures, the total market value of the potentially manufactured synthetic drugs is exponentially high.

The background:

"Drug precursors" are inoffensive chemical substances that are legally used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as medicines, soaps, perfumes or biocides. However, they also may be misused for illicit synthetic drugs manufacture such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines. As an example, ephedrine is used in medicines for caring for cold treatment but could also serve to produce methamphetamine.

Customs have here an important role to play in the control of goods entering the EC. They have the expertise and knowledge to detect consignments of high risk. Effective EU border management against dangerous synthetic drug precursor consignments can help to cut down such drug supply.

At the same time, co-operation with the European Chemical industry is a core element of international drug precursor control. Therefore, the Commission fully promotes and welcomes a strong partnership culture with companies.

The event:

Technical briefing at 11.00 with representatives from DG TAXUD and DG ENTR, in Acquarium 4 Berlaymont Building in Brussels.

The sources:

European Commission website on drug precursor control:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/customs_controls/drugs_precursors/index_en.htm

European Commission website on drug precursors:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/chemicals/legislation/precursors/index_en.htm

Commissioner Kovàcs website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kovacs/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 9842 maria.assimakopoulou@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 22 November: Strategic Energy Technology Plan

The news:

Energy technologies will play a key role in the EU's efforts to achieve its 2020 targets and 2050 goals on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Currently, the development of these technologies in the EU is undertaken in a dispersed, fragmented, sometimes even competing way.

The European Commission will propose various ways in which the EU as a whole – EU institutions and member States - can work together and create the best conditions for industry and society in general to use research, development and innovation to drive down the cost of existing energy technologies and bring about a step change in their market take-up and to develop the next generation of technologies for the sustainable energy system of the future.

The background:

EU energy research budgets have declined since the 1980s and the energy technologies that have been developed have not been widely picked up, often due to cost and to lesser performance.

The need to move to a post-carbon society and economy, and the commercial opportunities offered by the Emissions Trading Scheme and other policies designed to improve energy security and fight climate change mean the moment is here to make a more sustained and integrated effort to develop the EU's capacity for innovation in energy technologies.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioners Potočnik and Piebalgs, at which the main points of the proposed Strategic Energy Technology Plan will be presented.

  • Available on EbS

Technical briefing in the preceding days (to be decided) on the technology mapping exercise carried out to prepare the Strategic Energy Technology Plan.

Examples of recent energy technology innovations will be displayed near the press room.

Press materials relating to the Strategic Energy Technology Plan

  • EBS infoclip is available

The sources:

MEMO/07/2 – World Technology Outlook to 2050

MEMO/07/3 – Eurobarometer on Energy Technologies

MEMO/07/14 – Energy Technologies in the January 2007 Energy package

Commissioner

Potočnik's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/potocnik/indexfl_en.htmCommissioner Piebalgs' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/piebalgs/index_en.htmThe contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas +32 2 296 6293 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

Antonia Mochan +32 2 296 99 21 Antonia.Mochan@ec.europa.eu

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08 Sophie.Andersson@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 22 November: Toy Safety

The news:

European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Meglena Kuneva will present the results of the Commission's 2 month stocktaking review on consumer product safety controls as well as the results of the third EU-China Report RAPEX (Rapid Alert System) received from the Chinese Authorities in October.

The report sets out details Chinese enforcement actions relating to dangerous consumer goods withdrawn from the EU market. The Chinese Authorities gave clear commitments to increase the quality and quantity of enforcement actions during Commissioner Kuneva's visit to China in July this year.

The background:

On 29 August 2007, Commissioner Kuneva informed her colleagues in the European Commission of her intention to carry out a review, using the case of the Mattel recalls over summer to review the strengths and weaknesses of the consumer product safety mechanisms currently in place in Europe.

The review has involved extensive work with national surveillance authorities, the Chinese authorities, the US authorities, the European toy industry, retailers, as well as consultations with the European Parliament. Commissioner Kuneva and Verheugen has established an internal Commission interservice working group with the participation of Cabinets Mandelson, Kovács, Ferrero-Waldner, Kyprianou to feed into the process.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Kuneva in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.

  • Available on EbS
  • I-055035 Statement by Meglena Kuneva on toy safety 25/09/2007
  • 53305 Memoclip on toy safety

The sources:

Commission's RAPEX website:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_en.cfm

MEMO/07/344 - European Commission to carry out two month review of toy safety controls (05 sept)

Commissioner Kuneva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kuneva/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Helen Kearns + 32 2 298 7638 helen.kearns@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 22 and Friday 23 November: Second Civil Protection Forum

The news:

DG Environment is holding the second edition of the Civil Protection forum in Brussels. This year's theme is "European Civil Protection - Together in the face of disaster."

The forum aims to bring together some 500 people involved or interested in civil protection, and will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and an opportunity to meet other people sharing the same interest or profession.

The programme will comprise three keynote plenary sessions and three series of panel sessions. "Working together" will cover topics of a political and operational nature, including cross-border cooperation and new threats. "Planning together" will look at contingency planning and the role of volunteers. The third section, "the wider picture", will look at issues including climate change and media responsibility.

It will also feature some 50 exhibitors in indoor facilities and a smaller outdoor exhibition.

The background:

Effective civil protection operation relies on prevention, preparedness and response. The European Commission is responsible for supporting and supplementing efforts at national, regional and local level with regard to disaster prevention, the preparedness of those responsible for civil protection and the intervention in the event of disaster. The Commission is also responsible for running the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) which acts as a hub for the response phase of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection.

The legal basis of European civil protection response was recently upgraded with the adoption of the Civil Protection Financial Instrument at the JHA Council meeting of 5 March 2007 and with the adoption of a recast of the legislation establishing a Community civil protection mechanism at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting of 8 November[CHECK} 2007. This new legislative framework significantly strengthens European civil protection cooperation, financing transport for the provision of assistance, setting up specialised units known as "modules" and developing early warning systems and cooperation with third countries.

The event:

22-23 November 2007, Second Civil Protection Forum, Charlemagne building, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Conference programme:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/forum2007/agenda.htm

Speaker profiles are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/civil/forum2007/speakers.htm

Commissioner Dimas' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/dimas/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 2982010 barbara.helfferich@ec.europa.eu

Lena De Visscher +32 2 2963694 lena.reuterberg@ec.europa.eu

Monday 26 November: Making qualifications more readable throughout Europe

The news:

The official launch of the 'European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning' (EQF) will take place in Lisbon during the Portuguese Presidency's conference "Valuing learning: European Experiences in validating non-formal and informal learning".

The EQF will link countries' qualifications systems, acting as a translation device to make qualifications more readable to Member States, employers and individuals. In doing so, it will make it easier for individual citizens to move to another country to work or study.

The background:

The European Parliament had voted in favour of adopting the 'Recommendation on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning' (EQF) on 24 October 2007.

The event:

The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', will attend a press conference at 11:00am on 26 November, together with the EP Rapporteur for the EQF, Mr Mario Mantovani MEP, and a senior representative of the Portuguese Presidency.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Press release and Memo following adoption by the European Parliament on 24 October 2007:

IP/07/1601 - The European Qualifications Framework: promoting mobility and lifelong learning

MEMO/07/427 - FAQ: Why does the EU need a European Qualifications Framework?

Text of the EQF Recommendation:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0463+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

European Commission EQF web site:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/eqf/index_en.html

Commissioner Figel's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/figel/index_en.htm

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67 John.Macdonald@ec.europa.eu

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08 Sophie.Andersson@ec.europa.eu

Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 November: 1st European Nuclear Energy Forum Bratislava

The news:

The purpose of the Forum is to organise on the basis of the European Council's mandate, an open and structured debate, without taboos, on key issues with regard to opportunities and risks of nuclear energy in the EU.

Concrete follow-up is that the Prime Ministers from the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia have agreed to jointly host this nuclear discussion forum in Bratislava with the following forum in Prague.

The background:

At the European Summit of 8/9 March 2007 the European Council agreed on a comprehensive European Energy policy action plan and adopted ambitious goals in the field of global climate protection. The Summit endorsed the Commission proposal to organise a broad discussion among all relevant stakeholders on the opportunities and risks of nuclear energy.

The event:

The Launching of the Forum will be attended by Mr Robert Fico, Slovak Prime Minister, Mr Mirek Topolanek, Czech Prime Minister and Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The Forum will be attended by Chairmen, CEOs and high level representatives from the nuclear industry, power companies, energy intensive consumers, finance and civil society as well as other key decision makers and organizations at national and EU level.

For registration details please contact Ferran Tarradellas Espuny

For programme please email Marilyn Carruthers

The sources:

TREN Website:

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/index_en.html

Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

http://europa.eu/comm/commission_barroso/piebalgs/team_en.htm

The forum web page will only be operational after the forum meeting.

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas +32 2 296 6293 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 November: Telling the story: Communicating Cohesion Policy together

The news:

The Commission is organising a conference in Brussels: "Telling the story. Communicating Cohesion Policy together" in the context of the increased importance the Commission gives to the issue of communicating on European structural funds.

Cohesion policy represents over a third of the EU budget and impacts directly on the lives of all Europe's citizens. Do they know about it?

The background:

The conference will provide an opportunity for 450 communication officers, representatives of various European information relays and media to exchange experience on communication and publicity for the Structural and Cohesion Funds.

During 2007-2013, all beneficiaries of financial support under the Cohesion Policy will be disclosed. Member states and regions will also have an obligation to publish all projects co-financed by the funds and the amounts granted.

The event:

The conference will be held on 26 and 27 November in the Charlemagne building, in Brussels. Commissioner Danuta Hübner will deliver the opening speech.

The workshops are opened to all interested journalists.

The sources:

European Commission website:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/country/commu/conferences/november07/index_en.cfm

Commissioner Hübner's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/hubner/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Eva Kaluzynska + 32 2 299 26 15 Eva.kaluzynska@ec.europa.eu

Dina Avraam + 32 2 295 96 67 constantina.avraam@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: Airline blacklist

The news:

The first Community list of airlines banned from the European Union was adopted by the Commission on 22 March 2006. The Commission, in agreement with the competent authorities of the Member States, will adopt the sixth update of this list on 28 November.

The background:

Effective aviation safety standards in Europe have rendered our safety record amongst the best in the world. Whilst the European Union and its Member States are working with safety authorities in other countries to raise safety standards across the world, there are still some airlines operating in conditions below essential safety levels.

The European blacklist has had a genuine impact on air safety within the European Union. Besides its punitive effect, it encourages all airlines operating in Europe to comply strictly with safety standards and dissuades unscrupulous companies from starting up routes in Europe. The list has an international impact too as it is widely circulated. The Commission also advises the public against travelling with these blacklisted companies in other parts of the world.

The event:

Adoption by the Commission

The sources:

European Commission's website on blacklisted airlines:

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm

MEMO/06/127 - Airline blacklist, questions and answers

Vice-President Barrot's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/barrot/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Michele Cercone + 32 2 298 09 63 michele.cercone@ec.europa.eu

Maria Quillinan-Meiland +32 2 299 40 14 maria.meiland@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: Modernising the VAT treatment of insurance and financial services

The news:

The Commission is going to propose a Council Directive to modernise the current VAT rules applied on the supply of insurance and financial services.

The economic operators providing financial and insurance services in the EU are striving to improve their competitiveness both between themselves as well as from those established outside EU. The wide regulatory framework as set out in the Financial Services Action Plan, increases the competition between the suppliers of insurance and financial services and pushes for a level playing field towards a single Pan-European market.

The proposal is based on the results from the public consultation of stakeholders and the independent study that endorse the need for providers of insurance and financial services to strengthen their cooperation across the internal market and increase their competitiveness.

The background:

Current VAT legislation has not kept abreast of developments in the wider legal and regulatory environment for industries in the insurance and financial sector. The definitions of VAT exempt financial and insurance services are out of date and have led to an uneven interpretation and application by the Member States. This situation is generating legal uncertainty for economic operators and fiscal authorities. Indeed, VAT exemption is not applied uniformly in the Member States which creates a lot of distortions between economic operators.

The event:

Press Conference by Commissioner Kovacs in the Berlaymont press room after the Midday Briefing.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Public consultation papers (+ outcome):

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/archive/news/2006/article_2447_en.htm

Working documents:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/common/consultations/tax/working_paper_definitions_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/common/consultations/tax/taxud_2144-07_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/common/consultations/tax/working_paper_financial_insurance_en.pdf

Commissioner Kovacs' website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kovacs/index_en.htm

The contact:

Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 9842 maria.assimakopoulou@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: Commission embraces Web 2.0

The news:

The Commission will publish a new Internet Strategy paper entitles 'Being Global, Going Local' in order to embrace fully the new Internet culture and online communications opportunities that have arisen therefrom.

The paper will set out improvements to the management and operation of the Commission's own website as well as the potential of the internet in creating a European public sphere and how the Commission might contribute to that aim.

The background:

The Internet has come to play an increasingly important role in the daily lives of EU citizens: over 50% of the EU population is now connected to the Internet. The Internet has become an increasingly important method of communication and exchange of ideas. That, in turn, has led to new opportunities for governments, public bodies and other elected representatives to communicate with citizens and to enhance the democratic process.

The strategy paper is a follow-up to the Commission’s recent Communication “Communicating Europe in partnership”, and is necessary in order to achieve the aim of ensuring that the citizen’s right to be informed on EU issues can become a reality. The Internet can help EU institutions better understand public opinion by supporting a genuinely European public debate: there can be common themes, discussed openly and in real time by people from different countries who recognise each other as EU citizens with a legitimate stake in the debate. In promoting greater knowledge, debate and awareness of EU issues, the strategy will contribute to establishing the building blocks necessary to support an emerging and democratic European public sphere that empowers citizens to form and express their opinions on EU policies.

The event:

A press release will be issued.

The sources:

Vice-President Margot Wallstrom's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/wallstrom/index_en.htm

DG Communication website:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Joe Hennon +32 2 295 3593 joseph.hennon@ec.europa.eu

Irena Novakova +32 2 299 9608 irena.novakova@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November (date tbc): Commission proposes fishing possibilities for 2008

The news:

The Commission will adopt its proposal on annual fishing possibilities for 2008, based on scientific advice from ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. The proposal covers the main commercial stocks in the North-East Atlantic, including the North Sea (Council adopted for the Baltic Sea at last October meeting). The Commission already set out the principles it would follow in interpreting scientific advice in its policy statement published last June.

The background:

While ICES last month announced tentative signs of a possible recovery in the North Sea cod stock, its report as a whole underlined the crucial importance of keeping to long-term management plans in order to ensure sustainable improvements, and the need to continue with a precautionary approach to those stocks which are at most risk, such as anchovy in the Bay of Biscay.

A majority of fish stocks in EU waters continue to be exploited at levels in excess of those corresponding to maximum potential yield. As the Commission pointed out in its policy statement, the Council has tended to set TACs at levels substantially higher than those proposed by the Commission on the basis of scientific advice. The Council will debate this year's proposal from the Commission on 17-19 December.

The event:

Technical briefing (tbc) plus publication of IP and MEMO.

The sources:

IP/07/773 - Commission presents its approach to 2008 fish quotas (07/06/2007)

Joe Borg: Signs of stock recovery vindicate our gradual and sustained approach to fish stock recovery (15/10/2007):

http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/press_corner/press_releases/com07_65_en.htm

Commissioner Borg's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/borg/index_en.htm

External sources:

ICES: A new chance for North Sea cod? (press release, 15/10/2007)

http://www.ices.dk/aboutus/pressrelease/Press%20release%20-%20ACFM%20oct%202007%20final.pdf

ICES: ACFM October 2007 advice in full:

http://www.ices.dk/advice/icesadvice.asp

The contacts:

Mireille Thom +32 2 299 1630 mireille.thom@ec.europa.eu

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 0567 lone.mikkelsen@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 – Thursday 29 November: Towards a European strategy against violence in sport

The news:

Violence in and around sports events, especially at football grounds, remains a serious problem in many parts of Europe. To tackle these challenges more efficiently, the Commission with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council, in association with UEFA, have agreed to organise a high level conference on “Towards European strategy against violence in sport”.

Vice-President F. Frattini will attend the conference as well as high level representatives of the Member States, members of the European Parliament, the deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the President of UEFA, M. Platini.

The background:

Aggressive and harmful behaviour takes different forms, from spontaneous and usually low-level disorder involving a few individuals to the far more serious incidents planned by organised groups. In many cases, the most violent incidents have an international dimension, since large numbers of supporters cross national borders to attend major events. This conference will send an important signal about the political commitments of all relevant European institutions to combating violence in the football community.

It is only through stronger cooperation between the political, policing and sporting communities that we will address the prevention of incidents. This requires a more structured dialogue between all the stakeholders, including national and local governments, law-enforcement agencies, judicial authorities, sports federations, and other organisations such as supporters’ groups.

The goal is to deliver a multidisciplinary approach that shares best practice around Europe, and improves day-to-day cooperation between all the actors.

The event:

High Level Conference 28-29 November at Albert Borschette Conference Centre, Rue Froissart 36, B-1040, Brussels.

The sources:

More about the conference:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/events/violence_sport/information_notice_en.pdf

Draft programme:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/events/violence_sport/programme_en.pdf

Vice President Frattini's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Friso Roscam Abbing + 32 2 296 6746 friso.roscam-abbing@ec.europa.eu

Riccardo Mosca +32 2 296 1404 riccardo.mosca@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 5 December: Amending the European Trade Defence Instruments to take account of the new realities of globalisation

The news:

Following the consultation launched after publication of Green Paper to which the Commission received over 540 responses and the College Orientation Debate on 23 October, the College will adopt a Communication on TDI reform on 5 December. It will include proposals to make our trade defence system more transparent, efficient and accessible, especially for small businesses.

The trade defence review is part of our overall Global Europe agenda adopted last year. The theme of that agenda is that we should aim to keep markets open at home, actively seek open markets abroad and maintain effective defence against unfair trade. This review has been represented by some as an attempt to dismantle our trade defence system or to inject "relativism" into the decision making process. It is not. Effective trade defence to protect European workers and companies against unfair trade is right and necessary. It is also politically essential if we are to sustain and win the argument for keeping our own European markets open. Effective trade defence is the necessary complement to an open economy.

The background:

The European Union, like most importing economies applies a system of trade defence instruments or Anti-Dumping, Anti-Subsidy and Safeguard measures to defend European producers against unfair trade and dramatic shifts in trade flows.

The Commission Green Paper does not question the fundamental value of trade defence instruments, but invites a public reflection on how the EU can best use them in a changing global economic context to protect jobs and growth.

In the past decade there have been far-reaching changes in the structure of both the global and the EU economy. Many EU companies now produce goods outside the EU for import into the EU, others have outsourced some steps in the production process, or operate supply chains that stretch beyond the EU market. These changes challenge familiar understandings of what constitutes EU production and the EU's economic interests.

The event:

Adoption of the Communication on TDI reform on 5 December, followed by Press conference by Commissioner Mandelson in the Berlaymont press room (time tbc).

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Green paper on Trade Defence Instruments webpage:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/respectrules/anti_dumping/comu061206_en.htm

Commissioner Mandelson's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/mandelson/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Peter Power +32 2 296 1777 peter.power@ec.europa.eu

Michael Jennings +32 2 298 6880 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu


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