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AGENDA/07/41

Brussels, Friday 23 November

Top News from the European Commission
26 November to 23 December 2007


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

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

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 in Lisbon 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.

  • I-053831video stockshots on nuclear energy 2007 are available

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. Commissioners Danuta Hübner and Vladimír Špidla will deliver speeches.

The workshops are opened to all interested journalists.

  • Available on EbS

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

  • I-033970 Economic and Social Cohesion in Europe - 2nd Report - 2001

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

Tuesday 27 November: Sixth report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area

The news:

The Commission will review the 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 report, the sixth of its kind since the EU’s last enlargement, puts a particular emphasis on Cyprus and Malta, in view of their expected adoption of the euro next January 2008.

This report addresses the final preparations in Cyprus and Malta, in particular the introduction of euro cash into the economy, the state of the private sector's preparations as well as the state of public opinion on the euro in these two countries.

The background:

The report on the Practical Preparations for the future Enlargement of the euro area and the staff working paper attached to it are separate from the so-called 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. It looks at euro changeover plans and scenarios concerning such things 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 the 1st of January 2002. The countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 all plan to introduce the euro in a so-called ‘big bang’ scenario.

The event:

Publication of a press release

The sources:
IP/07/1073 - Fifth report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area (16/07/2007)

IP/06/623 - Commission proposes Slovenia to adopt the euro in January 2007 (16/05/2006)

2006 convergence report on Slovenia:
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/convergence/report2006_slovenia_en.htm

All relevant documents concerning the euro:
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/eurorelated_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/euro/our_currency_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

Tuesday 27 November: Report on EU progress towards Kyoto targets

The news:

The Commission will publish its annual report on the EU's progress towards meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The report will combine data on historical emissions up to 2005 with forward projections showing expected emissions in 2010.

The background:

Under Kyoto the EU-15 member states are committed to reduce their collective emissions in 2008-2012 to 8% below levels in the chosen base year (1990 for most member states and greenhouse gases).

In 2005, the latest year for which historical data are available, EU-15 emissions were 2% below the base-year level. New member states are not covered by the EU-15 commitment but most have individual commitments to reduce emissions by 6% or 8% over the same timescale. Only Cyprus and Malta have no emission targets.

The event:

The Commission will issue a press release summarising the latest progress report.

11.30 Off the record technical briefing on Bali and greenhouse gas emissions in the Berlaymont press.

The sources:
European Commission website on greenhouse gas monitoring and reporting:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/gge.htm

Commissioner Dimas' blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/dimas/

  • I-053299 Infoclip on the second anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol is available

The contacts:
Barbara Helfferich +32 2 2982010 barbara.helfferich@ec.europa.eu
Lena De Visscher +32 2 2963694 lena.devisscher@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 27 November: Towards a global low carbon economy

The news:

The Commission is organising a conference in Brussels: "Towards a global low carbon economy" with the aim of addressing energy and climate change challenges and related competitiveness issues. Are market opportunities for more sustainable technologies, products and services being tackled? Are there first mover advantages at stake? How may action at international level be reinforced?

The background:

The conference will provide an opportunity for some 350 CEOs and top managers of enterprises (in particular energy and energy intensive industries), civil society, environmental NGOs, and international organisations to exchange views on how to best move towards a global low carbon economy.

The event will be forward looking, setting a vision of future while providing industry and NGOs a platform to address key questions and voice personal commitment. The conference will act as showcase to deliver the most important messages from the High Level Group (HLG) on Competitiveness, Energy and Environment, while mobilizing industry and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), both from in- and outside the EU to address climate change and energy challenges.

The event:

The conference will be held on 27 November in the Hotel Hilton Brussels, Boulevard de Waterloo 38, in Brussels. Vice President Günter Verheugen will deliver the opening speech, the conference message to Bali and closing speech.

The event is opened to all interested journalists.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/environment/hlg/conference_nov_2007.htm

Vice President Verheugen's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/verheugen/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Ton Van Lierop +32 2 296 65 65 ton.van-lierop@ec.europa.eu
Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 299 65 12 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 28 November: EU-China Summit

The news:

The 10th EU-China Summit will take place on 28 November in Beijing.  The European Union will be represented by Commissioner President José Manuel Barroso, with Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates representing the EU Presidency, External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson as well as the High Representative Javier Solana. China will be represented by Premier Wan Jiabao of the State Council of China.

The leaders will review the development of bilateral relations over the last decade. The agenda will cover a broad range of bilateral, regional and international issues including Burma/Myanmar, the Korean peninsula, Africa, Iran, the Middle East, Kosovo, and climate change and energy.  Economic and trade relations will also be discussed as well as progress on sectoral issues, such as for instance science and technology, environment, education and the information society. 

The background:

In the morning of the Summit, the EU-China Business Summit will take place.

During the Summit, a €500 m EIB loan for combating climate change will be signed by President Barroso and Chinese Premier Wan Jiabao.  Leaders will also welcome the selection of a consortium to run an EU-China School of Law and a Business Management Training project.

The events:

Wednesday 28 November, Beijing: Joint press conference following the summit.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
European Commission website for EU-China relations:
http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/china/intro/index.htm


President Barroso's vlog:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/multimedia/vlog/index_en.htm

Homepage of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm

  • I-052121 Report from the EU/China Summit in 2006: arrivals, round table, group photo and extracts from the press conference

The contacts:
Leonor Ribeiro +32 2 298 8155 Leonor.RIBEIRO-DA-SILVA@ec.europa.eu
Christiane Hohmann +32 2 2991196 christiane.hohmann@ec.europa.eu
Christina Müschen +32 2 2980373 christina.mueschen@ec.europa.eu
Michael Jennings +32 2 298 6880 michael.jennings@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: 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 in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels at 13.00.

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

  • I-043206 Video stockshots on the common fisheries policy – 2003 are available

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 and Commissioner J. Figel' 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.

Thursday 29 November: press conference in the Berlaymont press room from 12.45 to 13.15 with Vice President Franco Frattini and Mr. Michel Platini, the President of UEFA.

  • Available on EbS

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

Friday 30 November: EU-India Summit

The news:

The 8th EU-India Summit will take place in New Delhi. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will represent the EU along with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, for the EU Presidency, Foreign Minister Luis Amado, External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson as well as High Representative Javier Solana. Russia will be represented by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister and Shri Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry.

The agenda will cover EU-India relations on the basis of the strategic partnership and the Joint Action Plan, future perspectives in our relations, developments in the EU and India, global issues such as climate change, and WTO/DDA negotiations, as well as international and regional topics, in particular SAARC and its Member States, Burma, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

The background:

On the eve of the Summit, a business Summit will take place, demonstrating the growing trade and economic relations between EU and India.

The event:

Friday 30 November, New Delhi: Joint Press Conference at 13.00

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
European Commission website for EU-India relations:
http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/india/intro/index.htm

President Barroso's vlog:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/multimedia/vlog/index_en.htm

Homepage of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm

  • I-052466 report from the EU/India Summit in 2006: arrivals, round table and group photo

The contacts:
Leonor Ribeiro +32 2 298 8155 Leonor.RIBEIRO-DA-SILVA@ec.europa.eu
Christiane Hohmann +32 2 2991196 christiane.hohmann@ec.europa.eu
Christina Müschen +32 2 2980373 christina.mueschen@ec.europa.eu
Michael Jennings +32 2 298 6880 michael.jennings@ec.europa.eu

Friday 30 November: Presentation of two European Coordinators for energy projects

The news:

Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will present two of the four European Coordinators for key energy projects.

Firstly Mr Georg Wilhelm Adamowitsch who will oversee the completion of the off-shore wind connections in the Baltic and North Sea areas (Denmark-Germany-Poland). The aim of the project is to facilitate the integration of the offshore wind energy produced in the Baltic Sea and North Sea in the continental grid. This project will be a major contribution to the development of a more environmentally sustainable network. Mr Adamowitsch was until recently Secretary of State of Economy in the Federal Government of Germany.

And secondly Mr Wladyslaw Mielczarski will help accelerate the implementation of the power connection between Germany, Poland and Lithuania. This connection will link the Baltic grid to the continental network (Germany, Poland) in order to increase the overall capacity and strengthen the reliability. Mr Mielczarski is professor in the University of Lodz.

Coordinators Messrs Monti and van Aartsen were presented by the Commissioner on 26 October and 21 November). They are respectively responsible for the high voltage connection France-Spain (the off shore wind connections in the Baltic and North Sea areas) and the NABUCCO gas connection (the power connection between Germany, Poland and Lithuania).

The background:

The four European coordinators have been appointed for a duration of four years and will monitor projects that face technical, political or financial difficulties.

The appointment of European coordinators reflects a strong commitment to promote the implementation of major energy priority projects and the Commission's answer to expectations on the need to strengthen the security of energy supply and power interconnections. The task of the coordinators is to offer strategic support as well as to provide practical advice. This will include tackling obstacles, bringing interested parties together across borders to work out optimal solutions, assessing impact of the projects and defining appropriate implementation strategies.

The Priority Interconnection Plan adopted by the Commission on 10 January 2007 in the framework of the so-called Energy Policy for Europe and the Action Plan adopted by the European Council on 9 March 2007, specifically mention the nomination of European Coordinators for these projects.

The event:

Press conference at 12.30 in Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/06/282 - Fuelling our future: the European Commission sets out its vision for an Energy Strategy for Europe

Commissioner Piebalgs website:
http://europa.eu/comm/commission_barroso/piebalgs/team_en.htm

The contacts:
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32 498 966 293 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu
Marilyn Carruthers +32 498 999 451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

Monday 3 to Friday 14 December: Bali conference on climate change

The news:

Environment ministers of the 191 countries that are parties to the UN climate change convention (UNFCCC) will meet in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 14 December to discuss action to tackle climate change after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's emission targets will expire.

Environment Commissioner Dimas will represent the Commission at the high-level segment of the conference on 12-14 December.

The background:

For the European Commission and EU member states it is essential that agreement is reached in Bali to launch UNFCCC negotiations on a comprehensive global climate change regime for post-2012 that involves all major emitters. The negotiations should be completed by the end of 2009 so that the result can be ratified by 2012.

Their objective must be to limit global warming to no more than 2°C (3.6°F) above the pre-industrial temperature: scientific evidence shows that this is a 'tipping point' beyond which the risk of irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes in the global environment will greatly increase. Keeping within this temperature limit will require global emissions to stop rising within the next 10 to 15 years and then be cut to at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Through the climate and energy strategy endorsed by the European Council in March 2007, the EU has committed to cutting its emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and is ready to increase this reduction to 30% if other developed countries agree to similar efforts.

The event:

Commissioner Dimas will give daily press conferences during the high-level segment of the Bali meeting.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
Europa website:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/future_action.htm

UNFCCC website:
www.unfccc.int

Commissioner Dimas' blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/dimas/

President Barroso's videoblog:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/multimedia/vlog/index_en.htm

  • I-053854 Video stockshots on energy and climate change 2007 are available

The contacts:
Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 20 10 barbara.helfferich@ec.europa.eu
Lena De Visscher +32 2 2963694 lena.devisscher@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 4 December: Strategy for a stronger and more competitive European Defence Industry

The news:

The Commission will present a "Strategy for a stronger and more competitive European Defence Industry". It recognises the special character of the industry and its unique relationship with governments but argues that much can be done to unleash its full potential to ensure that it provides value for money to Member States and delivers the capabilities needed in an efficient and effective manner for the ESDP.

The aim is to create better conditions for Europe's defence industry to prepare for future challenges by increasing its competitiveness, promoting innovation, and building upon existing strengths, creating a fairer market place, and preserving and creating high quality jobs. This strategy is designed to ensure that Europe's defence industry can deliver the best capabilities for the ESDP.

Member States, EDA and the Commission must take the necessary actions, both individually and collectively, to promote coordination of an overall policy to strengthen the internal market for the European defence industry. The Communication will outline the Commission's contribution to this shared objective.

The background:

Europe's defence industry has an annual turnover of over € 55 billion. It accounts for around 30% of world production and has more than 300 000 employees. The defence sector is a technology-intensive sector whose cutting-edge research and development creates a spill-over in other areas. Defence is interlinked with electronics, information and communications technologies, transport, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Together, these industries constitute a source of opportunity, innovation and know-how which spurs development and growth throughout the economy.

The event:

Joint Press conference Vice President Verheugen and Commissioner Charlie McCreevy

  • Available on EbS

Technical Briefing

The sources:
IP/05/1534 - Public procurement: new Commission initiatives on more open and efficient defence procurement
MEMO/05/467 - FAQ - New Commission initiatives on more open and efficient defence procurement
IP/04/1133 - Public procurement: Commission consults on more open and efficient defence procurement

European Commission website on Defence Industries:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/defence/index_en.htm

European Commission website on Defence Procurement:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/publicprocurement/dpp_en.htm

The contacts:
Ton van Lierop +32 2 296 6565 ton.van-lierop@ec.europa.eu
Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 2421oliver.drewes@ec.europa.eu
Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 6512 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 4 December: Media launch of the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue 2008

The news:

Commissioner Figel' will hold a press conference to begin the activities of the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue 2008 (EYID) and launch its graphic image. Seven flagship projects for the Year will be presented, as well as the results of a flash Eurobarometer survey on intercultural dialogue.

The background:

On 18 December 2006, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Commission proposal of 5 October 2005 declaring 2008 as the "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue". The Year aims to

(1) promote intercultural dialogue as an instrument to assist European citizens, and all those living in the European Union, to acquire the knowledge and aptitudes to enable them to deal with a more open and more complex environment

(2) raise the awareness of European citizens, and all those living in the European Union, of the importance of developing active European civic participation which is open to the world, respectful of cultural diversity and based on common values.

The events:

Commissioner Figel' will be accompanied by well-known personalities in the field of culture, who will act as goodwill 'European Ambassadors for Intercultural Dialogue' during 2008, communicating at the EYID events throughout Europe. Ambassadors who have already confirmed their presence at the event include:

Writer Mr Paolo Coelho, Film director Mr Mihaileanu Radu, Classical musician Mr. Jordi Savall and Singer Marija Šerifović

The Commissioner will also present seven flagship projects that have been selected to receive funding during the Year, as well as the results of a flash Eurobarometer survey that investigates attitudes towards intercultural dialogue in Europe.

The press event on 4 December will be further enlivened by a group of school children from local primary schools in Brussels that have a multicultural profile. The children will illustrate intercultural dialogue in practice by painting "their vision of each other". The resulting paintings will be put on display in the Berlaymont building for the following two weeks and used in communication materials throughout the Year.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/05/1226 - The European Commission proposes that 2008 be “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”

European Commission website
http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/dialogue/year2008/year2008_en.html
EYID 2008 website:
http://www.interculturaldialogue2008.eu/
Commissioner Figel's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/figel/index_en.htm

The contacts:
John Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67 john.macdonald@ec.europa.eu
Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08 sophie.andersson@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 5 December: Enhanced consular protection of EU citizens

The news:

The Commission adopts an Action plan on consular protection and a recommendation to print Article 20 in new passports.

The background:

Thousands of EU citizens travel, work, study and reside outside the EU each year. Most of them are not aware that they have a right to consular protection as EU citizens if they need help in a third country in which their own Member State does not have an embassy or a consulate. In those cases, EU citizens can ask for protection by diplomatic and consular authorities of any other Member State which shall assist them on the same conditions as they assist their own nationals. This right is enshrined in Article 20 of the EC Treaty.

Crisis situations, such as the tsunami in 2004 and the Lebanon conflict in 2006, showed the need to strengthen consular protection of EU citizens in distress in third countries. One of the main objective of the Action Plan is to better inform citizens of their rights under Article 20. Another objective is to clarify and reinforce the scope of protection. The Action Plan encourages Member States to pool resources in third countries to save costs and improve cooperation. The Action Plan covers the period 2007-2009. The Commission recommends also Member States to print Article 20 in new passports to inform citizens of their rights.

The event:

Technical briefing (tbc)

The sources:
MEMO/06/450 - Green Paper on diplomatic and consular protection for citizens of the Union in third countries (28 November 2006)

IP/06/1638 - Protecting citizens abroad: effective right to diplomatic and consular protection (28 November 2006)

JLS website:
http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/index_fr.htm

Vice-President Frattini's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/webroot/welcome/default_en.htm

The contacts:
Friso Roscam Abbing +32 2 29 66746 friso.roscam-abbing@ec.europa.eu
Riccardo Mosca +32 2 29 61404 riccardo.mosca@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 5 December: European Neighbourhood Policy - Taking stock and moving forward

The news:

A Communication "A Strong European Neighbourhood Policy" will be presented by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to the College. This communication sets out the actions required from the EU in 2008 to make a reality of the proposals to strengthen ENP made a year ago. The Communication will set out where greater efforts are required by Member States and by the Commission itself to deliver in key fields including economic integration, mobility and the frozen conflicts, as well as on a number of sectorial issues.

The background:

The European Neighbourhood Policy is deepening the EU's relations with its neighbours, and has become the established vehicle for cooperation with these countries across a wide policy spectrum. It is a partnership for reform that offers more for more: the more deeply a partner engages with the Union, the more fully the Union can respond politically, economically and through financial and technical cooperation.

In December 2006 the European Commission presented new ideas to increase the impact of the ENP, proposing additional opportunities for partner countries, and even greater support for neighbours already engaged in political and economic reforms. At the end of the German EU Presidency, these ideas were broadly endorsed by the European Council. Good progress has already been made to implement these ideas, but a great deal remains to be done. The new Communication sets the priorities for the EU side in 2008.

The ENP offers privileged political and economic relations to 16 countries neighbouring the EU and builds upon existing relationships (Partnership and Co-operation and Association Agreements, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership). Co-operation with these countries is based on a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development).

A second Communication focusing on actions required by the Neighbours will be published in April with the Annual Country Reports.

These are the countries covered by the European Neighbourhood policy: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. Relations with Russia are not covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, but rather by the EU-Russia Strategic Partnership.

The event:

Press Conference of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels, on 5 December after the midday briefing.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/06/1676 - Strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy
MEMO/06/460 - European Neighbourhood Policy – State of Play.
European Commission website on ENP:
http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_fr.htm

The contacts:
Christiane Hohmann +32 2 2991196 christiane.hohmann@ec.europa.eu
Concha Fernández de la Puente +32 2 2952977 concha.fernandez-puente@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 6 and Friday 7 December: European Enterprises Awards in Porto

The news:

The winners of the European Enterprises Awards, who come from among 48 nominees and 25 European countries, will be announced during a gala dinner by European Commission Vice President G. Verheugen, Portuguese Minister of Economy and Innovation M. Pinho and M. Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions.

There are six categories in the European Enterprise Awards:

  • The Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award will recognise actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset.
  • The Enterprise Support Award will reward innovative policies that promote enterprise and attract investment, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
  • The Red Tape Reduction Award will reward measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, in particular for start-ups.
  • The Investment in People Award will recognise initiatives to improve entrepreneurship education and training.
  • Responsible entrepreneurship will honour corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.
  • Jury’s Grand Prize will be awarded to the entry that is considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.
  • A high profile jury, consisting of European entrepreneurs, leading business people, academics, as well as members of both the European Commission and national governments will select the winners of the European Enterprise Awards.

The background:

Policies that promote entrepreneurship and create a favourable environment for business, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises are crucial if the European Union is to tackle its number one challenge of stimulating economic growth and creating new jobs.

The European Enterprise Awards competition aims to raise awareness of partnership activities between local administrations and businesses, in particular SMEs, and highlight the role of entrepreneurial success in developing Europe’s economy.

The event:

The 2007 European Enterprise Award Ceremony will be co-organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, the Portuguese Presidency, through IAPMEI - the Portuguese Agency for SMEs and Innovation - and the Committee of the Regions. It will be combined with the Portuguese Presidency’s flagship conference on “SMEs and entrepreneurship – successful local strategies”, bringing together a mosaic of new and inspiring practices and policies from across Europe.

  • Available on EbS early 8 December

The sources:
IP/06/1702 - Finnish project wins 2006 Grand Prize in European Enterprise Awards
IP/06/1446 - European Enterprise Awards: 51 nominees compete for the title of most entrepreneurial region in Europe
MEMO/06/390 - European Enterprise Awards: 51 nominees compete for the title of most entrepreneurial region in Europe

European Commission website on European Enterprise Awards:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/entrepreneurship/smes/awards/index_en.htm

Vice-President Verheugen's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/verheugen/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Ton Van Lierop +32 2 296 65 65 ton.van-lierop@ec.europa.eu
Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 299 65 12 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Friday 7 – Sunday 9 December 2007: Plan D 2006-2007 Citizens' Projects Concluding Conference

The news:

The European Commission is organising a conference on 7-9 December in Brussels, in the Berlaymont building, to draw conclusions from the experience gained from the cross-border citizens’ consultation projects it co-funded in 2006 and 2007 in the framework of “Plan D for Dialogue, Democracy and Debate”.

Two hundred European Union citizens who took an active part in Plan D will debate on the issues of major concern which have emerged from these projects – the human aspects of globalisation; enlargement, political integration and EU citizenship; and the EU’s role on the world stage. They will then submit their views to a panel of representatives of the EU institutions. The results of this conference will feed into the reflection of the Commission on follow-up to Plan D.

The background:

In response to a call for a period of reflection by the European Council in June 2005, the Commission adopted “Plan D for Dialogue, Democracy and debate” on 13 October 2005. Its aim was to organise a broad public debate on the future of the European Union involving citizens, civil society, social partners, national parliaments and political parties, with the support of the EU institutions.

The first Plan D action was to provide support for projects experimenting various ways of consulting EU citizens through cross-border deliberative consultations. Two waves of projects have been launched so far.

The event:

Plan D 2006-2007 Citizens' projects concluding conference "The Future of Europe – the citizens agenda"

  • Live broadcasting by EbS Saturday 8 December 9.30 to 10.30 and Sunday 9 December 10.00 to 12.00.

The sources:
Website of the conference:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/wallstrom/communicating/conference/dialogue/index_en.htm

DG Communication website:
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/index_en.htm

Vice-President Margot Wallström's blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/wallstrom/

The contacts:
Joe Hennon +32 2 295 3593 joseph.hennon@ec.europa.eu
Irena Novakova +32 2 299 9608 irena.novakova@ec.europa.eu

Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December: EU-Africa Summit

The news:

In Lisbon, the second EU-Africa Summit will adopt the Joint EU-African Strategy.

The aim is to replace the outdated and restrictive structure of the donor-recipient relationship with a true partnership based on political dialogue and real measures in fields of shared interest such as peace and security, development, climate change, energy and immigration.

The background:

The second Summit will take place in Portugal almost four years behind schedule (the first Summit was held in Cairo in 2000), basically because of differences over the invitation of Zimbabwe.

The Commission's position has been that this is not an EU Zimbabwe summit but a summit between 53 African countries, 27 European countries and the regional organisations and that one name alone cannot hold relations between two continents to ransom. The EU-Africa Strategy should be a major step forward in relations between the two continents, a genuine new beginning.

The event:

The Summit will bring together the Heads of State and/or Government of some hundred African and European countries as well as high-ranking dignitaries of the EU and the AU and a number of observers. The European Commission will be represented by President José Manuel Barroso. The Commissioner for Development, Mr Louis Michel, will also attend.

  • Available on EbS

On 6 December there will be a press conference by Commissioner Louis Michel at 12.30 (time and date tbc).

The sources:
EU-Africa relations:
http://ec.europa.eu/development/Geographical/RegionsCountries/EUAfrica_en.cfm

Website of the Summit:
http://ec.europa.eu/development/services/events/eu-africa-summit-2007/index_en.cfm?CFID=159728&CFTOKEN=32471209&jsessionid=2430b44a2b2c546b1d1e

Commissioner Michel's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/michel/index_en.html

The contacts;
John Clancy +32 2 295 37 73 john.clancy@ec.europa.eu
Amadeu Altafaj Tardio +32 2 295 2658 Amadeu.altafaj-tardio@ec.europa.eu

Monday 10 December: Launch of the new EU Job Mobility Action Plan 2007- 2010

The news:

The European Commission will launch its new EU Job Mobility Action Plan: presenting specific actions to help remove barriers to worker mobility at European level and to encourage the relevant authorities to deal with obstacles at national, regional or local level.

15 actions are proposed for the period up to 2010, covering four areas:

  • improving existing legislation and administrative practices on social security coordination and on the portability of supplementary pensions
  • ensuring policy support from authorities at all levels
  • reinforcing EURES (European Employment Services) as the one-stop shop for job mobility in Europe (currently 1.4 million jobs online Europe-wide)
  • increasing awareness of the possibilities and advantages of job mobility among the wider public.

The background:

The new Action Plan is based on the lessons from the previous Action Plan for Skills and Mobility, the results of the 2006 European Year of Workers' Mobility, and on the strong connection between worker mobility and a number of ongoing policy debates, such as flexicurity, lifelong learning, multilingualism and demographic change.

Although it has increased, worker mobility in the EU remains relatively low. Only around 2% of working-age citizens from one of the 27 EU Member States currently live and work in another Member State.

Increasing job-to-job mobility within the EU will also help to develop the employability and adaptability of workers in the context of rapidly changing labour markets. Workers in the EU currently stay in the same job for an average of 10.6 years, compared to 6.7 years in the US.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Vladimír Špidla at 12.30 on 10 December in the Berlaymont press room.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
On workers' mobility:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/free_movement/index_en.htm

European Year of Workers’ Mobility 2006:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/workersmobility_2006/index.cfm?language=en

Commissioner Spidla's blog:

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

The contacts:
Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 14 08 katharina.von-schnurbein@ec.europa.eu
Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94 carmel.dunne@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 11 December: Strategic report on the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs and its accompanying measures

The news:

As we approach the end of the first three-year cycle, the results of the new Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs are clearly visible. Almost 6.5 million extra jobs have been created in EU-27 in the last two years. Another 5 millions job are expected to be created up to 2009. Unemployment is expected to fall to under 7%, the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

The Strategic Report confirms the central place of the renewed Lisbon strategy and calls for it to be deepened during the next three-year cycle. The EU should use the strategy better to shape globalisation in line with its own values and interests.
The EU goes into a new Lisbon cycle against a background of slowing global growth and risks arising from the financial turmoil, rising oil and (agricultural) commodity prices and a lower dollar. In the face of greater uncertainty about the development of the world economy the EU needs to continue to strengthen its own base and press ahead with the implementation of structural reforms.

The background:

The renewed Growth and Jobs Strategy is based on three-year cycle. This report will determine the direction of the Strategy during the next cycle (2008-2010). This is to be launched at 2008 Spring European Council, during the Slovenian Presidency, on the basis of the political orientations provided by this report.

The event:

Press conference with President Barroso and Commissioner Verheugen at the pressroom of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, 16.00

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/06/1758 - Working for growth and jobs - A year of delivery

European Commission website on growth and job:
http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/index_en.htm

Member States' autumn 2007 reports on the implementation of their National Reform Programmes:
http://ec.europa.eu/growthandjobs/key/nrp2007_en.htm

Contribution of the Commission to the October Meeting of Heads of State and Government: The European Interest - Succeeding in the age of globalisation:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/pdf/COM2007_581_en.pdf

President Barroso's video blog:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/multimedia/vlog/index_en.htm

Vice-President Verheugen's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/verheugen/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Johannes Laitenberger +32 2 296 5745 johannes.laitenberger@ec.europa.eu
Ton van Lierop +32 2 296 6565 ton.van-lierop@ec.europa.eu
Mark English +32 2 296 2410 mark.english@ec.europa.eu
Catherine Bunyan +32 2 299 6512 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 11 or Wednesday 12 December (tbc): Regions delivering Lisbon through Innovation and Cohesion Policy 2007-2013

The news:

Between 2007 and 2013, structural and cohesion funds support to a high extent investments in infrastructure, research and innovation, sustainable development and human resources which are relevant for the objectives of the growth and jobs agenda.

In total, cohesion policy programmes will amount to €347 billion of support from structural and cohesion funds complemented by about €160 billion of national and private co-financing. 82% of funding is concentrated on the "Convergence" regions home to 35% of the EU population, most of which living in EU12 but as well in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Eastern Germany and Southern Italy. For the first time, Member States were asked to "earmark" planned cohesion policy expenditure in order to contribute to the "Lisbon " objectives.

The results show that under the Convergence objective in the EU-27, 65% of the funds are to be invested in the Lisbon-related objectives. This represents an increase of 11 percentage points compared to the previous programming period. Regions falling under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective which traditionally have concentrated more effort on investment for competitiveness, plan to continue to invest a high proportion of the funds, 82% of the total, in the earmarked categories, a small increase on the 2000-2006 period.

The background:

The analysis per country shows that Member States have confirmed in their national strategies the commitments towards achieving these targets.

For EU15, the figures for earmarked planned expenditure range from 60% to 88% (Austria) for the Convergence regions and between 67% and 92% (Denmark) for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment regions.

For EU12, the commitments are somewhat more modest , but it is important to remember that in many regions there is still a need for investment in a variety of sectors fundamental to economic progress that are not in the earmarked categories. Encouragingly, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania with extensive investment needs to modernise the economy, have decided to concentrate a significant proportion of resources on Lisbon-related priorities.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Danuta Hübner (time/date to be confirmed – either Tuesday 11/12 (Strasbourg) or Wednesday 12/12 (Brussels at 12.30)

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
European Commission websites on Regional policy:
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/atlas2007/fiche_index_en.htm
Commissioner Danuta Hübner's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/hubner/index_en.htm
Audiovisual links:
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/4thcohesionforum/sources_en.cfm

The contacts:
Eva Kaluzynska +32 2 299 26 15 Eva.Kaluzynska@ec.europa.eu
Constantina Avraam +32 2 295 96 67 Constantina.Avraam@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 12 December: The European Transparency Initiative — state of play

The news:

The European Commission launched its transparency initiative in November 2005. Two years later, it is time to take stock of what we have achieved, in particular regarding the professional ethics of public office-holders.

The College will adopt on the 11th of december a communication on "Delivering best practice in professional ethics in the Commission" and release an independent comparative study of the rules and standards of professional ethics for the holders of public office.

The background:

The European Transparency Initiative was adopted by the Commission (on 9 November 2005), and a Green Paper was published in May 2006 to launch a debate with all the stakeholders on how to improve transparency on the Community funds, consultation with civil society and the role of lobbies and NGOs in the European institutions' decision-making process.

In July 2006 the Commission launched a call for tenders for a comparative study of the rules and standards of professional ethics for holders of public office in the European institutions and in national parliaments, national governments, courts and central banks of the 25 Member States of the European Union plus Romania, Bulgaria, Canada and the United States of America.

The event:

11:30: Press conference with Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas (Berlaymont press room, Brussels)

The sources:
IP/06/1855 - First success for European Transparency Initiative – Annual disclosure of recipient data for EU funds
IP/07/367 - European Transparency Initiative: Commission invites lobbyists and interest groups to subscribe to public register
SPEECH/05/130 – speech by Vice-President Kallas on the need for a European transparency initiative

Transparency initiative website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/transparency_en.htm

Vice-President Kallas' website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kallas/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Valérie Rampi +32 2 296 6367 Valerie.Rampi@ec.europa.eu
Dale Kidd +32 2 295 7461 Dale.Kidd@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 19 December: Reform of the European Union wine sector

The news:

The Agriculture/Fisheries Council is expected to reach a political agreement on the Commission proposals from July 2007 to reform the wine sector, to bring it into line with the CAP reforms which began in 2003. 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 background:

Following a thorough debate on its Communication from June 2006, the Commission adopted a legal proposal for the reform of the common market organisation (CMO) for wine in July 2007.

  • Europe is by far the biggest producer and exporter 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 Commission is not advocating reducing the annual budget for wine – around 1.3 billion euros – but using it more intelligently.

The event:

Political agreement on the Commission proposal at the Agriculture Council

Press conference by Commissioner Fischer Boel and the Council Presidency

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/07/1008 - CAP Reform: wine reform will help Europe regain lost market share

European Commission website on the wine sector:
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/agriculture/capreform/wine/index_en.htm

Commissioner Fischer Boel's blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/fischer-boel

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 19 December: Clarification for Access to cross-border health care in the EU

The news:

The Commission will adopt a new coherent framework for cross-border healthcare. The draft directive clarifies to patients whether and under what circumstances they can choose providers abroad.

The proposal also makes clear who is responsible for quality and safety of healthcare in cross-border settings and provides European added value through cooperation such as in border regions and for centres of reference for specialised care and treatment.

It also aims to provide better and clearer information to the European citizens so that they can make informed choices about the treatment they need.

The background:

Europe has a long tradition in ensuring a high level of health for its citizens. The health systems of the Member States, and their shared commitment to ensuring universal access to good quality care on the basis of equity and solidarity, constitute a central element in safeguarding a high level of health in the EU.

The primary responsibility for providing healthcare lies with the Member States. In most cases, patients will have the care they seek from their domestic health system, without needing to consider healthcare abroad.

However, in some instances healthcare may be better provided in another Member State – for rare conditions or specialised treatments, for example, or in the case of border regions where the nearest appropriate facility may be in another country. Therefore, the Commission has developed a legal instrument to help realise the potential of the European dimension for healthcare.

The event:

Commissioner Kyprianou will hold a press conference to present the "Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on safe, high-quality and efficient cross-border healthcare."

  • A video news release on cross border healthcare will also be available, via EBS, for interested television stations.

The sources:
SPEECH/07/603 – Speech by commissioner Kyprianou: "Addressing the Challenges of Cross-Border Health Care"

IP/06/1150 - Patient mobility: Commission to launch public consultation on EU framework for health services
DG SANCO website:

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/index_en.htm
Commissioner Kyprinaou's website

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

The contact:
Nina Papadoulaki + 32 2 298 6378 haravgi-nina.papadoulaki@ec.europa.eu


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