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AGENDA/07/04

Brussels, Friday 26 January

Top News from the European Commission
29 January – 25 February 2007


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

Monday 29 to Tuesday 30 January: Commission pushes talks with African Leaders and participates in the Summit of Heads of State of the African Union

The news:
The situation in Somalia, Horn of Africa and Darfur will be at the heart of the AU Summit in Addis Abeba, where Commissioner Louis Michel will hold a number of bilateral meetings with several Heads of State and Government, including Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda.
The European Commission plays a key role in the region of the Horn of Africa. In the Darfur conflict, since 2004, EC has provided €362 million in aid and is the main contributor to the African Union peacekeeping force (AMIS) with €242 million. In the Somali conflict, Commissioner Michel plays a central mediation role in the region of the Horn of Africa. EC stands ready to contribute to an African stabilization force (AMISOM) with a first envelope of €15 million but pushes for the opening of an inclusive political dialogue to bring lasting peace and stability.
The AU Heads of State Summit is also an occasion to consolidate regional governance in Africa and discuss issues such climate change, the link between science, technology and development.

The events:
Monday 29 to Tuesday 30 January:
Commissioner of Development and Humanitarian Aid, Mr Louis Michel, will address the Summit. Press arrangements to be decided.

  • EbS coverage


Tuesday 30 January:
Commissioner Michel will hold series of bilateral meetings with various African leaders including among others, Somalia's President, Mr Yussuf, Sudan's President, Mr. Al Bashir, and Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Mr. Meles Zenawi. From 9.00 to 14.30 local time, in the AU compound in Addis. 
A short Press Conference is foreseen at 14.30 (t.b.c.), AU compound, Addis.

  • EbS coverage


Wednesday 31 January and Thursday 01 February:
Commissioner Louis Michel visits respectively Erythrea and Djibouti to discuss the situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

The sources:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/echo/field/sudan/darfur/index_fr.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/development/body/country/country_home_en.cfm?cid=so&lng=en&status=new
Other websites: AU ummit and EU Council conclusions on Somalia and Sudan:
http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Conferences/Past/2007/January/summit/summit1.htm
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/fr/gena/92481.pdf
http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/fr/gena/92475.pdf

The contacts:
Amadeu Altafaj Tardio +32 2 295 2658; Marc Lognoul: +32 2 295 6493

Monday 29 January to Friday 2 February: European Sustainable Energy Week – "Take a week to change tomorrow"

The news:
The European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, the European Institutions and major stakeholders concerned with sustainable energy. It operates under the umbrella of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign (SEE).
The EUSEW is the first major initiative jointly undertaken by so many players. It also reflects the active cooperation between several key EU initiatives managed by the European Commission, such as Concerto +, Civitas Forum, ManagEnergy, EPBD Buildings Platform, the Intelligent Energy - Europe Programme, the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign, European Technology platforms for Wind Energy, Photovoltaics and Solar Thermal.
The aim of the EUSEW is to become the key annual reference point for sustainable energy issues in Europe. The events organised during EUSEW cover key topics that highlight the multi-sectoral nature of sustainable energy development and stress the need for everyone to work together towards a common goal. EUSEW provides stakeholders with a unique opportunity to get involved in something much larger than just one organisation or event.

The events:

The EUSEW will take place in Brussels and other European cities.
Monday 29 January, 11.00: "European Renewable Energy Policy" Conference at the Flagey Centre, Brussels. Monday's events will count with the participation of UK's Foreign Secretary, Ms Margaret Beckett and Environment Commissioner, Mr Stavros Dimas.

  • Press conference with European Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, among others. Time-tbc.


Tuesday 30 January: "European Renewable Energy Policy" Conference at the Flagey Centre. Managenergy conferences will be held at the Committee of the Regions.

Wednesday 31 January: "Applying ICT-based solutions to energy efficiency challenges"

  • 17.30: Technical Briefing to the Press on EUSEW (Charlemagne Building).
  • 18.00: Managenergy cocktail (Charlemagne Building).


Thursday 01 February: Conferences followed by Press Conferences throughout the day in the Charlemagne Building. Award Ceremony hosted in the Residence Palace, Brussels.

  • 8.00 – Early breakfast available – Interviews and Networking opportunities.
  • 10.30 – 11.30: Round table - "Global Energy Crisis - Local Energy Solutions" with Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Energy among others.
  • 17.00-18.00: Media Meeting/Exclusive interviews with European Commissioner Piebalgs on Energy related issues.
  • 19.30 Sustainable Energy Europe Award Ceremony and cocktail in the presence of HRH Prince Laurent (Residence Palace).


Friday 02 February: Hotel Metropole, in Brussels

  • 10.30 -11.00: "The Final European Dissemination Meeting and Conference "EAEF Sustainable Energy Partnership Opportunities between EU and ASEAN". Press conference. Time-tbc.

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://www.sustenergy.org/tpl/page.cfm?pageName=press_area
Other websites:
http://www.eusew.eu/index.cfm

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

Tuesday 30 January: Creating Smoke Free Environments in Europe

The news:
The Commission intends to put forward a Green Paper on smoke free environments. This will be a consultative process, following on from previous stakeholder consultations and the experience of those countries that have introduced smoking bans in public places, such as Italy, Ireland and Sweden.
The intention is to explore both legal mechanisms and health promotion initiatives at both European and Member State level.
Adults who are in daily contact with a smoker increase their mortality rate by 15%, even if they have never smoked themselves.
On a related issue on 31 January at 18:00, Commissioner Kyprianou will inaugurate with Jules Maaten MEP the exhibition "The Power of Communications Against Tobacco" at the Bibliotheque Solvay in Brussels, an exhibition of the tobacco picture warnings set out in EU legislation as well as those from countries around the world including Australia, Canada and Thailand.

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner of Health, Mr Markos Kyprianou after Midday's Briefing at the Berlaymont's Press Room.

  • EbS coverage
  • EBS video footage of Commissioner Kyprianou inaugurating the exhibition "The Power of Communications Against Tobacco".

The sources:
IP/06/694
EuroBarometer: Survey on Attitudes of Europeans Towards Tobacco:
Sumary of EuroBarometer Survey on Attitudes Towards Tobacco:

European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/my_lifestyle/tobacco/index_en.htm

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

Tuesday 30 January: The Commission participates in the EurailFreight 2007

The news:
From January 1st 2007 the European market of railway freight has been completely liberalised.
Good progresses are being made to liberalise the European market of the passengers railway in the next years.
The liberalisation processes represents an unprecedented change for the European railway actors, and the EurorailFreight conference will be an important occasion to take stock of the latest developments in this sector.
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), together with the German EU Presidency, and supported by UNIFE and UIC, will bring together the key stakeholders of the railway community to discuss the top challenges the rail industry is facing today and in the future.
The main actors of the European railway sector will be present at the conference bringing together up to 500 guests. This will be a unique occasion to meet and discuss about the future of the sector.

The event:
The Conference will take place at the Renaissance Hotel Brussels, Belgium
09.10- 09h50: Introductory speeches and participation to the panel of the Conference "Opening of the rail freight market – A new perspective for the rail!" by Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport and Wolfgang Tiefensee, German Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs and Head of the Council of the EU for transport (as of January 2007).

The sources:
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/rail/index_fr.html
Other useful website:
http://www.cer.be

The contacts:
Michele Cercone +32 2 298 0963; Marja Quillinan-Meiland +32 2 299 4014


Tuesday 30 to Wednesday 31 January: Official Launch of the "European Year of Equal Opportunities for All 2007"

The news:
Because most Europeans believe that a person's ethnic origin, religion, disability or age can be an obstacle in finding a job, even when qualifications are equal; because women still only occupy less than a quarter of parliamentary seats in the EU or because more than 50 million EU citizens have a disability, 2007 has been designated the "European Year of Equal Opportunities for All".
It will play a key role in helping to raise awareness about the benefits of diversity and to inform the wider public about their rights to a life free of discrimination.
The bulk of activities under this 15 Million Euro initiative will take place at national, regional and local level in the 30 participating states (EU27 + Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) complemented by an EU wide information campaign.

The events:
Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 January:
Official launching of the "Equality Summit" in Berlin with the participation of EU Ministers, trade unions, employer's organisations, equality bodies and NGOs.

Tuesday 30 January:
Press Conference by Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, and German Minister for Family Ursula von der Leyen, in Berlin at 13.00.

  • EbS cuttings

The sources:
Decision 771/2006/EC
IP/07/69
MEMO/07/24
European Commission websites:
http://equality2007.europa.eu
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/eyeq/index.cfm?&page_id=95
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/fundamental_rights/legis/legln_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/fundamental_rights/faq/faq_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2007/jan/euro_baro_summary_en.pdf

The contacts:
Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 1408, Constantina Avraam +32 2 295 9667

Tuesday 30 January: Commission presents the Interim Report on the Blackout of November 2006

The news:
The November Blackout affected 5 million customers in France and millions in Germany too. In Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy and Spain several hundred thousand were also cut off.
Immediately after the Blackout Commissioner Piebalgs requested the European Regulators, the Union of Coordination of Electricity Transmission (UCTE) and the European Transmission System Operators (ETSO) to rapidly establish the precise cause of the Blackout and establish the measures that will be taken to ensure that it does not reoccur.
The Interim Report of the UCTE has been finalised. It is based on the present state of the investigation and information available concerning the power system disturbances of November 2006 and it has been prepared by the Investigation Committee and is issued by UCTE.
This Interim Report is a result of the first phase of the investigation process and presents facts and preliminary findings of the events and the root causes only.

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner of Energy, Mr Andris Piebalgs at 15.00 in the Berlaymon't at the Press Room, Brussels.

  • EbS coverage

The sources:
IP/06/1514
IP/06/1839
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/energy/index_en.html
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/piebalgs/index_en.htm
Other websites:
http://www.ucte.org/
http://www.etso-net.org/

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

Wednesday 31 January: Final results of the retail banking sector inquiry

The news:
This is the final report on retail banking within the framework of the financial services inquiry launched in 13 June 2005.
The Commission wants to ensure that consumers in the EU can benefit from a competitive financial market.
Using the information gathered, the Commission could launch investigations on specific problems identified and take anti-trust action against possible restrictive business practices and abuses of dominant position (articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty).

The event:

Press Conference by Commissioner for Competition, Mrs Neelie Kroes in the Berlaymont's Press Room, Brussels. Date and Time –tbc.

  • EbS Coverage

Technical Briefing by Mrs. Irmfried Schwimann in the Berlaymont, Brussels. Date and Time –tbc.

  • EbS Coverage- tbc.

The sources:
IP/06/999
IP/06/496
MEMO/06/164
IP/05/719
MEMO/05/204
SPEECH/06/344
European Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/antitrust/others/sector_inquiries/financial_services/

The contacts:
Jonathan Todd +32 2 299 4107; Linda Cain: +32 2 299 9019;
Audrey Lemonnier +32 2 295 0258

Thursday 01 February: Internal Market Scoreboard

The news:
The Internal Market plays a key role in achieving the EU's objective of creating more growth and jobs. It has created millions of jobs and billions of euros in extra prosperity. It gives EU citizens a wider choice of quality goods and services and greater freedom to travel, work, study and live in other EU countries, while making for a more efficient allocation of resources and offering greater trading opportunities to businesses. But the Internal Market can only achieve its full potential if legislation agreed at European level is effectively implemented and applied by all Member States.

The Internal Market Scoreboard is published to keep track of progress being made by Member States in transposing legislation agreed at EU level into national law. Once legislation is agreed at EU level member States have a specific time – usually two years to transpose it into their own national legislation. The Internal Market Scoreboard is a survey of progress and also highlights the number of infringement proceedings initiated by the Commission against each Member States.

The event:

Press Conference by Commissioner of the Internal Market and Services, Mr. Charlie McCreevy in the Berlaymont's Press Room, Brussels, at 13.30 (Time to be confirmed).

  • Ebs coverage

Technical Briefing after the Press Conference in the Berlaymont's Press Room.

The sources:

IP/06/1008 .
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/top_layer/index_1_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/score/index_en.htm#score
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/mccreevy/index_en.htm

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

Monday 05 and Tuesday 06 February: Conference "Food Quality Certification – Adding Value to Farm Produce"

The news:
Consumers, retailers and farmers rely increasingly on logos and certification schemes to help them identify and distinguish food produce. A wide range of quality certification schemes currently operate in Europe and their number continues to increase.
Over the last decade, European agriculture has made an important shift, emphasising quality and specialisation. Globalisation will only increase this tendency. Farmers and producers know and care about production and processing techniques, ingredients, and origin of raw materials. In the EU, they also have to follow high animal welfare, environmental and labour standards that cannot be imposed in respect of imported foods. Certification schemes provide a means by which producers can inform their ultimate customers about their products—and give guarantees that the information is well founded. Some certification schemes also operate in the area of assuring compliance with compulsory hygiene and food safety standards.
In order to better understand the potential for certification in the EU, the Commission's Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development is organising a conference on food quality certification schemes.
Following on from the 2-year "Food Quality Schemes" pilot project, undertaken by the Commission's research arm, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the conference will mark a step-change from data and opinion gathering to consideration of policy options. The conference will examine how food quality schemes work, the economics of schemes, their operation in the internal market, and implications for global trade.

The event:
The Conference will be held at the Bedford Hotel in Brussels.

Monday 05 (10.00- 18.00):

  • Opening speeches from Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel (10.00) and Markos Kyprianou (10.30).
  • 14.30- 18.00 – Workshops.
  • Evening: Dinner reception.


Tuesday 06 (09.00 - 14.00):

  • Morning: Final Plenary.
  • 12.30: concluding remarks from Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

The sources:

European Commission websites:

"Food Quality Schemes" pilot project

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/events/qualityconference/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/foodqual/quali1_en.htm

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

Tuesday 06 February: Commission celebrates the Safer Internet Day

The news:
Safer Internet Day 2007, organised under the patronage of Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, will be celebrated across more than 30 countries worldwide and will mainly focus on child safety and mobile phones.
Insafe, in cooperation with eTwinning, is organising a competition combining the educational use of Information and Communication Technology with awareness raising on the opportunities and threats related to use of internet and mobile phones.
Schools are invited to work in transnational pairs, using technology to cross geographical borders, to create awareness material on one of three themes: e-privacy, netiquette and power of images. Twinned schools will showcase their creations in the 2007 Blogathon: a blog that opens every year on Safer Internet Day.

The event:
Signing Ceremony of a "Selfregulatory European agreement on safe use of mobile phones by children" by the Mobile Network Operators with the support of the Commission at 11.00 in the Berlaymon't Press Room, Brussels.
Press Conference and presentation of the main results of the public consultation on the protection of minors using mobile phones run in 2006 by Commissioner of Information Society and Media, Mrs Viviane Reding at 11.30 in the Berlaymon't Press Room, Brussels.

  • EbS coverage

The sources:
IP/05/148
IP/06/1512
IP/06/1059
IP/06/126
SPEECH/06/374
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/reding/index_en.htm
Other websites:
http://www.saferinternet.org/ww/en/pub/insafe/news/sid2007competition.htm

The contacts:
Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 1230; Mona Lund +32 2 299 9020

Wednesday 07 February: Annual assessment of the stability and convergence programmes (second group of countries)

The news:
Each year, Member States submit to the Commission their budgetary projections for the following years (usually five). The projections are contained in so-called Stability Programmes, for those countries in the Eurozone, and Convergence Programmes for countries outside the euro area.
The programmes' goal is to outline a strategy in order to maintain or reach a balanced or surplus budgetary position on the medium term.
The Commission will assess these programmes in three or four stages, the second taking place on February 07, 2007.
The second list of countries that will be examined is not yet cast in stone and is likely to be announced in February.

The event:
Adoption by the Commission.

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/ca_en.htm
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/scp_en.htm
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/edp_en.htm

The contacts:
Amélia Torres +32 2 295 4629; Marisa González +32 2 295 1925

Wednesday 07 February (Tbc): Internal market of goods - The New Approach and Mutual recognition

The news:

The Commission will now come forward with concrete proposals to simplify the legal framework in the area of technical harmonisation for the future and make the existing legislation in the field of products more coherent. The aim of the proposals is to make life for businesses easier by offering a more transparent legal framework, at lesser costs and lesser administrative burden allowing the swift, but safe, introduction of new products.

20 years ago, European product legislation was revolutionised by what was then called the “New Approach” method. This consisted of making harmonisation possible based on the simple condition that the producer can guarantee that its products are safe. The CE marking assures consumers the products fulfil European Standards.

The New Approach has been instrumental in opening up the single. It is a simple and flexible regulatory technique. Mutually agreed voluntary standards throughout the EU contribute to better regulation, stimulate business competitiveness and remove barriers to trade.

It covers entire product sectors (e.g.: household appliances, construction materials, medical devices, measuring instruments, lifts, and recreational craft). Together, the trading volume of the products covered only by the major sectors is estimated to exceed €1500 billion per year.

Still, in June 2006 the Commission launched a consultation and sought stakeholders' views on how the system could be improved.

The event:
Press conference by Vice-President Verheugen in the Bermaymont's Press Room. Date and Time - tbc.

  • EbS Coverage

The sources:
IP/06/778
MEMO/05/168
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/verheugen/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Ton Van Lierop + 32 2 296 6565; Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 299 6512

Thursday 08 February (Tbc): Commission to propose legislation on Environmental Crime

The news:

Offences such as the illegal emission of hazardous substances into the air, water or soil, the illegal shipment of waste or the illegal trade in endangered species can have devastating effects on human health and the environment. They also undermine the efficiency of EU environmental legislation. Therefore, they should be subject to effective sanctions throughout the European Union. The definition of environmental crimes varies greatly from one Member State to another and in many Member States, the levels of sanctions are insufficient.
To remedy this situation, the Commission intends to propose a directive that obliges Member States to consider certain serious offences against the environment as criminal acts and to ensure that they are effectively sanctioned. The aim is to ensure that safe-havens for environmental crime will no longer exist within the European Union.

The event:
Press conference by Commissioner of Environment Mr. Stavros Dimas and Vice-President and Commissioner of Justice, Freedom and Security, Mr. Franco Frattini at 11.30 in the Berlaymont's Press room, Brussels. Date– tbc.
Ebs coverage

Technical briefing with experts from DG JLS and DG ENV will take place after the Midday Briefing. Date– tbc.

The sources:

European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/crime/index.htm
http://www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/frattini/index_en.htm
http://www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/dimas/index_en.htm

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich +32 2 298 2010; Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 0567
Friso Roscam Abbing +32 2 296 6746; Riccardo Mosca +32 2 226 1404

Sunday 11 February:  A big push for the European film industry – official launch of the new MEDIA 2007 programme

 
The news:
"The Wind that shakes the barley" by Ken Loach, "Volver" by Pedro Almodovar, "L'enfant " by the Dardenne brothers, "Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain"  by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, "La vita e bella"  by Begnini, "Underground" by de Kusturica, but also documentaries and animation films such as "La marche de l'empereur"  by  Luc Jacquet, "Mondovino" by  Jonathan Nossiter, "Les Triplettes de Belleville"  by  Sylvain Chomet – these are just some examples of very successful European films which - over the past years – have received substantial support by the European MEDIA programme. There are 300 new film projects funded by MEDIA every year...
Adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in November 2006, MEDIA 2007 will be officially launched by Commissioner Reding at the Berlin Film Festival (8-18 Feb. 2007).
MEDIA 2007 is the new EU support programme for the European audiovisual industry with a € 755 million budget over seven years (2007-2013).
MEDIA 2007 is divided into five action lines which represent its main activities and receive different shares of the earmarked money:  Distribution (55%), Development (20%), Promotion (9%), Training (7%), Horizontal actions  (5%) and  Pilot projects  ( 4%).
The MEDIA programme exists already for over 15 years and has given support to thousands of European films (feature films, documentaries, cartoons, etc.). MEDIA 2007 is the follow-up programme of MEDIA plus and MEDIA training which injected € 513 million into the European audiovisual industry from 2001 to 2006.

The events:
The Berlin Cinema Festival and market takes place form 8 to 18 February in the German capital.  

Reception and speech by Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, at the Berlin Festival at 19.00 – 22.00, DZ Bank, Pariser Platz 3, Berlin.

  • Coverage of the reception of Commissioner V. Reding

The sources: 
EU-Decision on the adoption of MEDIA 2007 (Nov. 2006) 
European Commission websites: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media/overview/2007/index_fr.htm
http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/fr/lvb/l24224.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media/overview/who/desks/index_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media/overview/news/index_en.htm

  • Stockshots available: 4 video clips on success stories and on the Berlin Film Festival


The contacts:
Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 12 30;Mona Lund +32 2 299 90 20 -

Tuesday 13 February: Annual assessment of the stability and convergence programmes (third group of countries)

The news:
Each year, Member States submit to the Commission their budgetary projections for the following years (usually five). The projections are contained in so-called Stability Programmes, for those countries in the Eurozone, and Convergence Programmes for countries outside the euro area.
The programmes' goal is to outline a strategy in order to maintain or reach a balanced or surplus budgetary position on the medium term.
The Commission will assess these programmes in three or four stages, the third taking place on February 13, 2007.
The third list of countries that will be examined is not yet cast in stone and is likely to be announced in February.

The event:
Press events to be decided.

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/ca_en.htm
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/scp_en.htm
http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/about/activities/sgp/edp_en.htm

The contacts:
Amélia Torres +32 2 295 4629; Marisa González +32 2 295 1925

Thursday 15 February: Proposal to adapt minimum taxation rates on commercial diesel

The news:
In the light of the results of a comprehensive impact assessment the EU Commission will make a new proposal on professional diesel to amend Directive 2003/96/EC in order to reduce the distortion of competition in the haulage sector caused by fuel price differences.
This distortion of competition results from the fact that tax rates for diesel differ greatly from one Member State to another. At the same time, big trucks have tanks of huge capacity, allowing them to cover between 1500 and 3000 kilometres, thereby conducting a kind of fiscal planning where they take advantage of the very significant differences in national excise duties on diesel fuel (tank tourism phenomenon).
The road transport sector is now fully opened up to competition. However, excessive differences in fuel tax levels are increasingly an obstacle to the smooth functioning of the internal market.
The proposed changes should reduce the differences in taxation for commercial diesel, thus minimising the distortion. The result should be to provide a more level playing field for haulage companies and petrol stations in Member States which are currently affected by foreign competitors based in neighbouring countries with lower fuel prices. Apart from ensuring that the internal transport market operates more smoothly, the proposal meets common transport policy objectives and will provide better protection for the environment. It will contribute to the implementation of the Kyoto protocol.

The event:

Press conference with the Commissioner responsible for Customs and Taxation, Mr Kovacs in the Berlaymont's Press Room, in Brussels. Time-tbc.

  • Ebs coverage

The sources:
IP/03/1456;
IP/06/818;
IP/06/1434
European Commission websites: http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=164839
http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/excise_duties/energy_products/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 9842, Roger Nunn ++32 2 295 3647

Friday 16 February: Interim Economic Forecasts

The news:

The Commission will publish its interim economic forecasts, updating the outlook for GDP growth and inflation in 2007 for Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Poland as well as the EU and Euro area aggregates.

The Commission publishes interim forecasts in February and September. Twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, the Commission publishes comprehensive economic forecasts for all Member States and all variables, including forecasts on national debts and deficits. The next fully-fledged forecast comes out on 7 May 2007.

Interim forecasts help monitor the evolution of the European economy and offer a better service for economic agents, the financial sector, governments and many other institutions and businesses that use forecasts.

The event:
Press Conference by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia at the Berlaymont in Brussels at 11.00.

  • Video and photo coverage by EbS.

The sources:

IP/06/1154

IP/06/1508

European Commission websites:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/index_en.htm

http://europa.eu.int/comm/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/forecasts_en.htm

The contacts:
Amélia Torres + 32 2 295 4629; Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925

From Friday 16 February to Tuesday 20 February: First bilateral visit of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to India

The news:

This will be the first bilateral Commission visit to India since 2002.
As in all the EU's major partnerships, Energy and Climate change are coming centre stage, and these will be major themes of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner's visit to Delhi and Mumbai. India' is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, and the Commission is seeking to work with India to reduce consumption, strengthen implementation of the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism, develop clean coal technologies and renewables.
Other topics on the agenda will include deepening cooperation in line with the EU Action Plan, the Commission proposal to negotiate a broad based Trade and Investment Agreement, and implementation of the new EU development cooperation strategy towards India. Deepening of educational and cultural programmes will also be discussed, as well as international issues including recent developments in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India-Pakistan relations.

The events:
Commissioner of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will attend several bilateral meetings with India's major political leaders. These include Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Trade Minister Kamal Nath, Minister of Finance Palaniappan Chidambaram, Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Members of the Parliament.

Following the meeting with Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee a Press Conference has been planned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Precise time to be confirmed.

The sources:
Brochure: The EU and India: a strategic partnership
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/india/intro/index.htm
http://www.delind.cec.eu.int/

The contacts:
Emma Udwin +32 2 295 9577; Christina Mueschen +32 2 298 0373

Wednesday 21 February: New strategy on health and safety at work 2007-2012

The news:
Since the establishment of the Health and Safety at Work Strategy for 2002-2006, Member States have significantly improved in this area, and their national strategies have become more focused. This is reflected in available data which show a reduction of 17% of the fatal accidents and a 23% reduction of accidents leading to absence from work for more than 3 days. However, these reductions are not evenly spread. Certain categories of workers (e.g.: older workers, migrants), certain enterprises (e.g.: SME's), certain sectors of activity (e.g.: construction, agriculture, transport, health and social services) and certain Member States present rates of occupational accidents and diseases that are much higher than the EU averages. Additionally, certain occupational diseases, such as musculoskeletal disorders, infections and illnesses caused by psychological strain, are on the increase.
The fundamental objective of the strategy for 2007-2012’s is to achieve a continuous, sustainable and homogeneous reduction of occupational accidents and diseases in the EU. This is to be achieved through:

  • Defining and implementing national strategies on the basis of a detailed evaluation of the national situation.
  • Improving and simplifying existing legislation as well as enhancing its implementation in practice through non-binding instruments such as exchange of good practices, awareness-raising campaigns and better information and training.
  • Mainstreaming of health and safety at work in other policy areas (education, public health, research) and finding new synergies.
  • Improved identification and evaluation of potential new risks

The event:

Press Conference by Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, in the Berlaymont's Press Room, Brussels. Time –tbc.

  • EbS Coverage

The sources:
European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/health_safety/index_en.htm
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/health_safety/docs/method_en.pdf

The contacts:
Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 1408, Constantina Avraam +32 2 295 9667


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