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Brussels Friday 20 June

Top News from the European Commission 22 June to 20 July 2008

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

Sunday 22 June: Commissioner Piebalgs at the Energy meeting in Jeddah, called by Saudi Arabia

The news:

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will make a statement at the meeting called by Saudi Arabia to be held in Jeddah next Sunday to discuss, bringing together OPEC, Ministers, oil companies and refiners. Around 35 countries, 30 companies, all OPEC countries, IEA, IEF are going to attend the meeting.

The first discussion panel will be chaired by HRH The Assistant Minister for Petroleum Affairs with participation of the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Secretary General of OPEC and the Secretary General of the International Energy Forum.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will present a joint background paper on Current Oil Market Conditions together with the IEA, OPEC and the International Energy Forum.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will address the conference as will Prime Minister H.E. Gordon Brown.

The Ministerial discussions will be held in closed session and will be chaired by HE the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi with participation of the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Secretary General of OPEC and Secretary General of the International Energy Forum.

The background:

The current price of oil is causing problems worldwide and Saudi Arabia has called this meeting at short notice to try to bring together all parties in an aim to improve the situation.

The event:

Media will be invited to join the closing session and the delivery of the final communiqué.

• EbS (Requested - TBC)

The sources:
Energy & Transport International Relations:

Commissioner Piebalgs' blog:

The contacts:
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32 2 296 62 93
Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 94 51

Monday 23 June: Register of lobbyists opens for business

The news:

The European Commission will inaugurate its register of interest representatives, i.e. organisations involved in influencing the policy formulation and decision making of the European institutions. This register will be available online and can be freely consulted by the public. Linked with this register, the Commission has adopted a code of conduct setting out clear and precise rules to guide the activities of lobbyists in their dealings with the Commission. Acceptance of the code of conduct is a requirement for entry in the register.

The background:

In 2005, the European Transparency Initiative (ETI) started taking steps to enhance public trust in the EU institutions by making them more open and accessible, and by increasing the accountability of EU policymaking. There are four concrete objectives of the ETI: 1) publication of the beneficiaries of EU funding, 2) standards for public consultation, 3) professional ethics for EU office-holders and staff, and 4) a structured framework for the activities of interest representatives (lobbyists, etc.). A Green Paper was published in May 2006 to spark a public debate with stakeholders on these issues. It identified the need for a more structured framework for the activities of lobbyists.

In its communication "Follow-up to the Green Paper 'European Transparency Initiative'", the Commission proposed, among other things, the creation of a voluntary register for lobbyists. In the interest of full transparency, organisations that register will be asked to disclose information about what their mission is, who they represent, and how they are funded, thus ensuring that both policymakers and the public can assess the strength of the interests promoting a particular policy option.

The Commission recognises that lobbying is a legitimate, even essential part of democratic decision making, whether it is carried out by consultancies, private companies, NGOs, law firms, think tanks or trade associations. The Commission needs and appreciates the input it gets from such organisations, but in return asks their cooperation in showing the public that the relationship is based on high standards of probity and transparency.

The events:
12:00: Statement by Commissioner Kallas in the Berlaymont's press room, Brussels
11:00: Technical briefing

  • Available on EbS
  • Infoclip

The sources:
Green paper European Transparency initiative COM(2006) 194 final:
Follow up to the Green paper on European Transparency initiative COM(2007) 127 final:
Website of Vice-President Siim Kallas — European Transparency Initiative:
Transparency at the Commission:
Register of interest representatives:

The contacts:
Valérie Rampi + 32 2 296 6367
Dale Kidd + 32 2 295 7461

Tuesday 24 June: The EU Internal Market for Postal Services – Creating it together

The news:

The "High level Conference on postal market reform" will mark the start of the final and decisive phase of EU postal market reform and is the Commission's immediate follow-up on the adoption of the new Postal Directive 2008/6/EC earlier this year. After gradual market opening in recent years, remaining legal monopolies on postal markets are set to be abolished by 31 December 2010. The vision of sustainable and open postal markets with high-quality postal services that contribute effectively to growth, employment and competitiveness can now become a reality.

Commissioner McCreevy will deliver a strong message at the conference that creating a sustainable postal internal market is a joint responsibility and that it takes more than the abolishing of the legal monopolies to meet this target. Key-note speakers at the conference include Competition Commissioner Kroes, MEP Ferber, Portuguese Minister Lino and Greek Minister Hatzidakis. All relevant players in the postal sector from Member States to operators will be represented at high level.

The background:

Postal services are at the cross roads of the communication and e-commerce sectors, and as such they are a cornerstone of the internal market. Overall in the EU, postal services are estimated to handle 135 billion items per year, reflecting a turnover of about € 88 billion or about 1% of Community Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About two-thirds of this turnover is generated by mail services. The reminder is generated by parcels and express services which are already in the competitive area (i.e., the market is fully open to competing operators).

The Commission's aim is to accomplish the Single Market for postal services and ensure a high quality universal service, by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way on the basis of the regulatory framework of the Postal Directive (Directive 97/67/EC as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC). The improvement of the quality of service, in particular in terms of delivery performance and convenient access are fundamental aspects of this policy.

The event:

The conference starts at 10.00, in the Centre Borschette, Rue Froissart 36, Brussels Conference.

• Available on EbS – Info clip

The sources:
IP/08/323: Publication of Postal Directive marks start date for real market opening
IP/08/163: Postal services: Commission welcomes the adoption of the EU Postal Directive. Market Opening brings clear benefits for postal users
IP/06/1419: Postal services: Commission proposes full market opening by 2009
MEMO/06/383: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Postal Services
For more informations on postal services:
Commissioner McCreevy's website:

The contacts:
Oliver Drewes Tel. +32 2 299 24 21
Catherine Bunyan Tel. + 32 2 299 65 12

Tuesday 24 June: EU OPEC Energy Dialogue in Brussels

The news:

Oil prices have been recently trading up to $135.09 a barrel so this Dialogue meeting attended by Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will be a very useful platform for discussion.

Also present amongst others at the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue meeting will be Andrei Vizjak, President of the EU Energy Council and Minister of Economy of Slovenia, Chakib khelil, President of the OPEC Conference, Minister of Energy and Mines of Algeria.

On the agenda will be the EU's Long Term Energy Scenarios and OPEC world oil outlook as well as discussions on fundamentals and pricing factors.

A summary report and conclusions of the study on oil refining will be presented by the EU and OPEC will present a progress report of the study on the impact of financial markets on oil price and volatility. There will be a round table and site visits on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) with presentations by both sides. The EU will report on the OPEC-EU Energy Technology Centre.

The background:

The EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue was established in Brussels on 9 June 2005 and are now meeting for the 5th time.

Developments have since underlined the value of dialogue and the mutual interest of both parties in improving communications and understanding between each other. It has provided an important addition to the process of dialogue and cooperation within the global energy arena.

Both the EU and OPEC face similar and growing challenges stemming from the need for security of supply and demand, large investments both upstream and downstream, and stable and predictable markets with reasonable oil price levels that are not damaging to either exporting or importing countries.

The event:

Meeting taking place in the Jean Rey Room, Berlaymont.

Press Conference in Berlaymont Press Room 13.00

• EbS coverage

The sources:
IP/07/862: Further significant developments in the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue
IP/07/729: EU-OPEC hold Roundtable meeting to discuss Energy Policies
IP/06/749: Further steps forward in the EU-OPEC Energy Dialogue

I-042241: pumping an oil tanker in the port (Wilhelmshaven, Allemagne); stock installations (tanks); pumping and distribution of petrol (pipelines); installation control room.

European Commission websites:
Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

The contacts:
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32 2 296.62.93
Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299.94.51

Tuesday 24 June: Thalys partner of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue

The news:

Launch of a special Thalys train decorated with the Logo of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008.

The Thalys trains decorated with the logo of the EYID will run from 24 June until the end of the year in order to inspire European citizens to intercultural exchange. This visual clue will highlight Europe’s intercultural richness. Thalys is an excellent symbol of «Europe on the Move», wants to encourage these intercultural exchanges and bring Europeans even closer together.

The background:

In the framework of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 media and sponsor partnerships are being developed to ensure a wide cooperation, strong visibility and dissemination of information during and after the Year.

The events:

Press conference at 11.00 am on 24 June 2008, in the SNCB Room (“Salons Royaux”) of Brussels South Station (Bruxelles-Midi). Presence of Commissioner Figel' and of the top Thalys management.

• EbS coverage

The sources:
European Year of Intercultural dialogue website:

Commissioner Figel's website:

The contacts:
John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67
Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08

Tuesday 24 June (tbc): First Europass evaluation

The news:

The European Commission will present a report on the first evaluation of the Europass initiative. The report is based on an external evaluation which concludes that the Europass initiative is achieving its objectives as a mobility tool for citizens and is relevant to their needs. This is clearly underlined by more than 12 million visits which the Europass online portal has had since its launch in 2005, and the fact that more than 3 million people have already generated online CVs on the website.

The report, which will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council, will include suggestions on how to extend the success of the ECV to all Europass documents. It will also look into ways of improving Europass by strengthening its role as a self-assessment tool and by widening its outreach, in particular to the unemployed and the low-skilled and also to better recognition of non-formal learning.

The background:

The Europass initiative, launched in 2005, provides a standardised portfolio of documents enabling people to describe their qualifications and competences in a transparent way and therefore facilitating their mobility.

Europass is implemented through a network of National Europass Centres (NECs), coordinated by the European Commission, and the Europass portal, developed, hosted and managed by Cedefop, the European Agency to promote the development of vocational education and training in the EU.

The Europass portfolio consists of five documents: while the Europass CV (ECV) and the E-Language Passport are based on citizens' self-assessment, the E-Diploma Supplement, the E-Certificate Supplement and E-Mobility are issued by competent organisations.

The event:

The European Commission will adopt a report on the first evaluation of the Europass initiative – a standardised European portfolio of documents to describe qualifications and competences.

The sources:
MEMO/05/31 - Europass FAQs

Europass portal:

DG Education and Culture web site, Europass page:

Commissioner Ján Figel's website:

The contacts:
John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67
Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08

Wednesday 25 June: 2008 Public Finances Report

The news:

The Commission is issuing its ninth annual 'Public Finances in EMU' report. The report analyses recent budgetary developments and assesses the outlook over the coming year, for both the euro area and the EU and the individual Member States. It also examines developments in the EU’s fiscal surveillance framework, specifically concerning the assessment of the structural budget balance and the measurement of the quality of public finances.

The background:

On the back of favourable economic conditions and buoyant revenue developments, public finances have continued to improve significantly in 2007. The general government deficit reached 0.6% of GDP in the euro area and 1.0% of GDP in the EU. Structural fiscal deficits (cyclically adjusted and net of one-off measures) are estimated to be at their lowest levels since the early 1970s. As a result, public debt in the EU dropped below the 60% of GDP threshold and is approaching this reference value in the euro area as well. At the same time, Member States have made considerable advances toward correcting their excessive deficits. In May the Commission proposed to the Council to close the procedure for the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia. The ECOFIN Council is expected to consider these recommendations in June. If confirmed, only two non-euro-area members, Hungary and Poland, would remain under the excessive deficit procedure.

Nevertheless, many Member States face considerable fiscal challenges over the short and long term. In the short run, safeguarding the recent consolidation gains may require greater efforts than envisaged under the 2007 Stability and Convergence Programmes since the 2007 improvements came on the back of the better-than-expected 2006 budgetary outcomes and revenue windfalls which may unwind as the economies face exceptional economic uncertainties going forward. Those countries that lacked behind in their 2007 fiscal improvements and have not yet reached their medium-term budgetary objectives are at particular risks. The report analyses these developments in detail and discusses potential technical advances for fiscal surveillance. In the long run, the budgetary costs from population ageing remain a primary concern in the EU. Five Member States are still at high risk and 13 at medium risk, calling for further consolidation efforts as well as pension and structural reforms.

A promising avenue to tackle these long-term fiscal challenges, while at the same time supporting the European economies in an environment of increased global competition, is a greater focus on the quality of public finances. The two analytical parts of the report centre on this topic. The first part sets out a comprehensive framework of quality of public finances bringing together its different yet interlinked dimensions as well as providing some initial empirical illustrations on the links to economic growth. The second part analyses one particular dimension of quality of public finances, namely the efficiency of revenue systems. It reviews the tax systems structures in the EU and highlights those elements that can be particularly conducive to economic growth.

The event:

Adoption by the college.

The sources:
Public finances in EMU – previous reports

EMU@10 – successes and challenges after ten years of Economic and Monetary Union

Excessive deficit procedure: Overview, legal texts, EDP notifications and country-specific procedures

2007 Stability and Convergence Programmes: Overview, assessment and legal texts

The long-term sustainability of public finance in the European Union 2006

Spring economic forecasts 2008-2009

I-057100: 10 Years of Economic and Monetary Union

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

Wednesday 25 June: Towards more sustainable, safety and better performing aviation with an expected doubling of traffic by 2020

The news

The Commission will adopt the 2nd package of the Single European Sky (SES II), an ambitious package for the aviation domain. This package of measures will significantly enhance the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, directly contribute to the reduction of costs for air transport, and reduce not only fuel burn but also the overall impact of aviation to the environment.

The new Air Traffic Management System shall ensure a systematic monitoring of each flight, guarantee shorter flights, respect much more the environment and reduce the overall costs for airspace users.

The background

A package of proposals will be presented to (1) update the existing legislation, to (2) bring the technological platform of air traffic management from the 1960's to the present day with the SESAR program and to (3) complete the remaining gaps in the European Safety Regulatory framework by extending the competences of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to aerodromes and air traffic management. It will also ensure that airport capacity – which is quickly becoming the biggest capacity bottleneck – is properly integrated in other aviation initiatives.

Perhaps the biggest change is that environment becomes a core element of the Single European Sky and that air traffic management (ATM) will realise its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Prospective improvements are in the order of up to 10% per flight.

The Commission is tackling the forecast doubling of air traffic and accompanied environmental consequences with a second package of the Single European Sky initiative (first package April 2004).

Today, an aircraft burns between 12 and 25 kg of fuel per minute before the pilot receives clearance for taking-off from the airports runway. The absence of a true European route network accumulates to nearly 5 billion Euros of additional costs for airlines. The current air traffic management system, which is still based on technologies and concepts of the 1960’s, will not be able to cope with traffic growth and the growing environmental concerns.

The event:

Press conference by Commissioner Tajani in the press room on the Berlaymont, Brussels. Time 12.15 tbc.

  • available on EbS

The sources:
Communication on the results of the first package of Single European Sky:

Report of the High Level Group on Aviation Regulation:

European Commission's websites (to be completed after adoption): (SES) (Safety) (EASA website)

SESAR websites: (SESAR consortium) (SESAR Joint Undertaking)

The contacts:
Fabio Pirotta +32 2 29 672 84
Maria Quillinan-Meiland +32 2 299 40 14

Wednesday 25 June: Small Business Act – Improving the business environment for Europe's small companies

The news:

To fully unlock SMEs potential for growth, innovation and job creation, the Commission has proposed the preparation of a Small Business Act for Europe.

Commissioner Verheugen will present the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) which will set out principles and concrete measures to improve the framework conditions for European Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), while taking full account of their diversity.

The background:

The European Commission has been implementing a modern policy to improve the business environment for Europe's small business by applying the “Think Small First” principle. While the policy has already produced significant improvements in creating a business environment which is friendly to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), it has also identified remaining obstacles especially in the area of regulatory burden.

As part of the Community Lisbon programme for Growth and Jobs 2008-2010, the European Commission was asked to prepare a Small Business Act that puts SMEs and entrepreneurship irreversibly at the heart of policy making

The European Commission launched a public consultation on the content of a European "Small Business Act". Its objective was to better understand remaining hurdles for SME growth and jobs potential in view of unlocking it. Over 500 contributions were received which has fed into the recommendations and helped identify the most urgent and important areas for further action. Stakeholders reaction indicate the need to further action in the following areas: full application of the subsidiarity principle and reduction of regulatory burden on SMEs, facilitation of their access to the Single Market and to public procurement, access to finances and skilled labour force, support for going global.

The event:

Press conference by Vice-president Verheugen and Commissioner McCreevy in the Berlaymont's press room, Brussels. 12.15 (TBC)

• Available on EbS

The sources:
European Commission's website:

Commissioners Verheugen and Mc Creevy's websites:

The contacts:
Ton van Lierop Tel+32 2 296 6565
Oliver Drewes Tel. +32 2 299 24 21
Catherine Bunyan Tel. + 32 2 299 65 12

Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 June: Commission launches first global campaign against torture

The news:

The European Commission is mounting an extensive media campaign (Internet, TV, radio) to raise public awareness about the problem of torture, which will culminate on International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. On that day, 47 countries will hold a specific event and 57 will broadcast video clips and display posters produced and supplied by the Commission.

At European Union level, 11 member states (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom) will take part in this campaign.

The background:

For more than 15 years now, the European Commission has been funding projects each year to prevent torture and help rehabilitate direct and indirect victims of acts of torture (in physical, psychological, legal and social terms) - the EU alone has 400.000 torture survivors living in its territory, of which the vast majority is made up of refugees.

With an annual budget of more than EUR 11 million to fund this kind of project, the European Commission is one of the principal donors in this field and its action is global in scope.

This is, however, the Commission's first information campaign on this subject on such a large scale.

The event:

25 June at 4.30 pm: Session with the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, in Brussels, attended by national parliamentarians and representatives of the press. EuropeAid will present the action taken by the European Commission to combat torture, its progress and results. Organisations which are active in the area will also present their field work.

26 June in the evening: Showing of Jim Threapleton's film "Extraordinary Rendition" on secret CIA flights and their tough interrogation methods, at the Espace Senghor in Brussels, followed by a debate on torture with EuropeAid officials.

The sources:
MEMO/07/254: International Day against Torture, The fight against torture: a key priority for the EU

Guidelines to EU policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment:

EuropeAid site on Promoting democracy and human rights:

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner's website:

The contacts
Christiane Hohmann +32 2 299 11 96
Anja Fiedler +32 2 298 03 85

Thursday 26 June: Taxation Trends in the EU, period 1995-2006

The news:

How high are taxes in Europe? Are tax levels increasing or decreasing? How is the tax burden shared between labour, capital and consumption? How does my country compare with the other Member States?

DG TAXUD will present the 2008 edition of the report ‘Taxation Trends in the European Union – period 1995-2006’.

This report contains statistics and economic analysis on the tax systems of the EU Member States (plus Norway).

The background:

Every year DG TAXUD, in close cooperation with Eurostat, publishes a report on the tax systems of the Member States of the European Union and Norway. This report offers a breakdown of tax revenues by economic function (i.e. according to whether they are raised on consumption, labour or capital). It also contains indicators of the average effective tax burden on consumption, labour and capital in the countries covered. Data are presented both as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of total taxation.

The event:

Technical briefing made by Marco Fantini, Head of sector "Taxation trends in the EU", Press room BERL, Brussels, after midday briefing.

The sources:

I-053370: Commercial Diesel Taxation

I-050083: Taxation: VAT reduction
This infoclip has been prepared to illustrate discussions on reduced VAT rates for services with high manpower levels which will be discussed at the Ecofin Council meeting in Brussels on 24/01/2006. The infoclip includes footage of: - Restaurant in Lille, France : service in the dining room, customers at lunch, restaurant bills; - Construction firm, Pecq, Belgium: building and renovating buildings, invoicing.

European Commission's website:

Commissioner Kovacs'website:

The contacts:
Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 2959842
Emer Traynor +32 2 2921548

Friday 27 June: EU Budget 2007 Financial Report

The news:

The annual "EU Budget 2007 Financial Report" will look at which Member States got what in 2007, and on which areas the €114 billion budget was spent in that year - the first of the enlarged EU-27 and the start of the 2007-2013 financial framework.

The key findings of EU spending for that year will be presented by EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Dalia Grybauskaitė on Friday June 27th at 11h30.

The background:

The annual report covers key features of spending for 2007. It includes an annex with an historical series of financial flows between Member States and the EU budget. It also includes information on Member State's operating budgetary balance for the period 1998-2007.

The event:

Press conference at 11.30 with Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaitė in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
The "EU budget 2007 Financial Report" will be available at:

Commissioner Grybauskaitė's website:

The contacts:
Cristina Arigho +32 2 298 53 99
Roger Nunn +32 2 295 36 47

Tuesday 1st July: European Customs Union celebrates its 40th Anniversary

The news:

The 1st July 2008 marks 40 years of Customs Union in Europe. To celebrate this milestone, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, László Kovács, is participating in a number of activities organised around the anniversary.

The week of 9 June was Customs Action Week, and the Commissioner will visited the customs at the port of Rotterdam (9 June), Frankfurt airport (11 June) and Röszke land border (Hungary- 12 June), to highlight the important but often invisible role of the Customs Union in protecting citizens and facilitating trade.

On 17 June, Commissioner Kovács gave a press conference in Strasbourg following the European Parliament vote on the resolution on Customs Union.

On 4 July, there will be a French Presidency event in Bercy, hosted by French Budget Minister Eric Woerth, to celebrate the anniversary of Customs Union. Commissioner Kovács will speak at this event, which will also be attended by the Director Generals of all the Member States' customs administrations.

There are also many activities taking place at national level to celebrate the anniversary of Customs Union.

The event:

The 1st July 2008 marks 40 years of Customs Union in Europe

The background:

Since its creation on 1 July 1968, the EU Customs Union has been one of the cornerstones of European integration and a key component of the single market. It has brought about two major achievements:

- the removal of all customs duties and restrictions between Member States

- and the application of a common customs tariff at the external frontiers.

Customs play a crucial role in protecting the EU's 500 million citizens, while at the same time working to facilitate trade.

The sources:
Information on Customs Union, and the activities being organised around the anniversary:

I-056378: EU external border control

I-056819: Enlargement of the Schengen area to airports of nine new Member States

I-055974: Enlargement of the Schengen area

I-055383: Cigarette Smuggling
Commissioner Kovacs'website:

The contacts:
Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 2959842
Emer Traynor +32 2 2921548

Tuesday 1 July in Paris: Launch of the European social dialogue for the professional football sector

The news:

Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and Ján Figel', EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth will open the first meeting of the new European social dialogue committee in the professional football sector. The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) and the International Federation of Professional Footballers' Associations – Division Europe (FIFPro), representatives of employers and players, will sign the rules of procedure during this ceremonial opening together with the European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA.

The social partners' aim is to bring more legal certainty and stability to footballers' contracts, a need which is felt by players and clubs. Minimum requirements for players' contracts (insurance, education, dispute settlement etc.) will be the first topics on the table.

Representatives of all four organisations will address around fifty delegates from the national leagues, club associations, and players' associations. The committee will address the common concerns of employers and players and can conclude agreements in the area of employment relations in the football sector at European level. The Commission's role is to facilitate this dialogue in the framework of the sectoral social dialogue committee.

The background:

FIFPro represents around 28 000 players in 20 EU Member States. EPFL represents leagues and clubs associations from 17 EU Member States with altogether more than 600 clubs in the EU. The ECA represents up to 103 clubs, of which 65 in the EU, participating in European club competitions.

The social partners have been working on the establishment of an official social dialogue at European level for six years. The Commission reconfirmed its support for social dialogue in the whole sport sector in its White Paper on Sport of July 2007.

Social dialogue is an instrument which allows social partners to contribute to the shaping of employment relations and working conditions specifically for their sector in an autonomous and participative way. Given the high degree of trans-national mobility on the football labour market, the European dimension is essential.

The event:

The ceremonial opening and signing will take place in the Hotel Lutetia, 45, boulevard Raspail, Paris, France on 1 July 2008 at 10.00. Journalists can attend the event with the possibility to put questions to the Commissioners. A press release will be issued.

The sources:
European social dialogue:

White Paper on Sport and its Background and Context annex:

Commissioner Špidla's website:

Site internet de M. Figel'

The contacts:
Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 14 08
Carmel Dunne +32 2 299 88 94
John MacDonald +
Sophie Andersson +

Wednesday 2 July: Launch of the Renewed Social Agenda

The news:

The Commission will launch the Renewed Social Agenda in Brussels. This ambitious package presents a comprehensive answer to rapidly changing social and economic realities. It aims to promote social well-being of European citizens by bringing together a wide range of EU policies and instruments, while streamlining and modernising existing policy tools.

The new package is centred on the three key principles of opportunities, access and solidarity. Europe is becoming increasingly diverse and no-one should be held back by artificial or discriminatory barriers. Everyone should have the right to access to quality services such as education and health care at all ages. Europe needs solidarity between individuals, generations and regions in order to make the principles of opportunities and access meaningful and to ensure that no-one is left behind. Initiatives to make these objectives a reality will be presented in the package.

An umbrella Communication will frame the package and explain the Commission's approach. As part of the package, the Commission will present proposals for directives on anti-discrimination, on European Works Councils and on patients' rights in cross-border healthcare in the EU as well as on the implementation of the social partners' agreement in the maritime sector. There will also be individual communications on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the follow-up to the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All in 2007, and the Open Method of Coordination in social protection and social inclusion.

Staff working papers will be presented on Roma, telework, social services of general interest, decent work, restructuring, the well-being of citizens in the information society and improving the efficiency of social spending. The package will also include a Green Paper on education and migration, a communication on schools for the 21st century and a recommendation on the mobility of volunteers.

Overview of some elements of the package:

Employment and social affairs

The Commission will propose a draft directive to take another step towards completing the legislative protection against discrimination across all grounds under Article 13 of the Treaty, in particular discrimination on grounds of age, sexual orientation, disability and religion or belief.

There are several million Roma in the EU who often live in difficult conditions. This working paper on Community policies in favour of Roma people will address the particular difficulties faced by Europe's Roma community and show possible ways of active inclusion.
European Works Council

An increasing number of enterprises is operating across borders in Europe. A revision of the European Works Council directive (94/45/EC) has been discussed since 2004. As the Social Partners disagreed earlier this year on starting negotiations on the issue, the Commission is now proposing a Directive to improve the functioning of European Works Councils to ensure effective social dialogue on restructuring operations.


Patients' rights in cross-border healthcare

This proposal for a directive aims at clarifying and promoting the right of patients to gain access to healthcare in another EU country by ensuring, at the same time, high quality and safe cross border healthcare throughout Europe. On this basis, patients will be able to make an informed choice, in full confidence about the reimbursement that they are entitled to and about safety and quality of the care that they will receive. It will also provide a basis for increased cooperation between healthcare systems. The EC aims as well to better sharing of expertise, innovation and information. The challenge is to give more opportunities and guarantees to citizens without affecting the financial sustainability of national health systems.


Mobility of young volunteers

The objective of the draft Council Recommendation on the mobility of young volunteers across Europe is to promote youth mobility by inviting Member States to further develop the interoperability of national schemes for voluntary activities and to address remaining obstacles to cross-border volunteering. The goal is that every young person should have the opportunity to volunteer in Europe if he or she wishes to do so. Cross-border volunteering has proven to have a particularly strong impact on young people's personal and professional development. The European Commission will support Member States in their efforts to promote cross-border volunteering, notably by developing the European Youth Portal with a view to ensuring that it provides a facility for matching offers and demands for volunteering opportunities.

Improving competences for the 21st Century: An Agenda for European cooperation on schools

This Commission Communication says that change, sometimes radical, will be needed if Europe’s schools are to equip young people fully for life in this century; it proposes an agenda for cooperation in three areas: a focus on giving all pupils the competences they need for life; a commitment to provide high quality learning for every student; and improving the quality of teachers and school staff.

Green paper on Migration and mobility – Challenges for EU Education Systems

This Green paper on the challenges posed by increased immigration and intra-EU mobility onto European education systems analyses the situation of migrant pupils in schools across Europe, and invites debate on how policies to address the issue might be developed and implemented. It also looks at what Community programmes, funds and processes might do to improve the situation. Finally, it invites reflection on Directive 77/486/CEE on education of children of migrant workers.

The background:

The EU has a strong tradition of emphasising the social dimension of society, from legislation on equal treatment for women and men and on workers' health and safety to the European Social Fund, which invests 10% of the EU budget in people's skills.

But European societies are facing rapid and dramatic changes as a result of new challenges such as globalisation, climate, technological and demographic change. We need a new response to these secular trends, and the renewed social agenda embodies this response. The Renewed Social Agenda draws on a broad public consultation launched by the Commission in 2007 to take stock of Europe's changing social reality.

The event:

Press conferences in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels (exact timing to be confirmed):

1. President José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Vladimír Špidla.

2. Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou

3. Commissioner Ján Figel´

Technical Briefings on different elements of the Renewed Social Agenda are planned for 30 June and 1 July (exact timing to be confirmed).

• Available on EbS

The sources:

Employment and social affairs


Eurobarometer on Youth:
The contribution of education & training to the Lisbon Strategy:
Background report prepared by the European Forum on Migration Studies of the University of Bamberg:

The contacts:
Overall package
Johannes Laitenberger +32 2 296 57 45
Jens Mester +32 2 296 39 73

Employment & social affairs aspects
Katharina von Schnurbein +32 2 298 14 08

Health aspect
Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 298 63 78

Education/youth aspects
John MacDonald +32 2 295 52 67

Information society aspect
Martin Selmayr +32 2 298 12 30

Efficiency of social spending
Amelia Torres +32 2 295 46 29

Thursday 3 July: Who will feed the world?

The news:

The French Presidency has organised, in partnership with the European Commission and the European Parliament, a conference "Who will feed the world? – Towards diverse, sustainable forms of agriculture as drivers of development"

Commissioners Mariann Fischer Boel and Louis Michel will participate, together with Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, French Ministers Michel Barnier and Bernard Kouchner, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and others.

The aim of the conference is to have a discussion on the challenges facing today's agriculture (food, energy, climate and the environment), including the question of the future of agriculture in developing countries and new initiatives in the fields of policy and governance.

The background:

The recent increases in food prices, as a result of a complex combination of both structural and more temporary factors, are having a dramatic impact on the world's poorest populations.

Responses to this situation have to be sought at all levels:
- The European Commission adopted on 20 May a Communication outlining the European response to mitigate the effects of rising food prices.

- The European Council will discuss the effects of rising food prices on 19/20 June

The event:
Conference at the European Parliament, Brussels
The Conference is open to all. Registration can be done via the website

The sources:

I-057708: World Food Security
Who will feed the world?

Nourrir le monde:

European Commission's website:

Commissioner Fischer Boel's blog:

The contacts:
Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80
John Clancy +32 2 295 37 73
Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28

Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 July: The G8 summit in Japan – Leadership to address global challenges

The news:

For the fourth time, President Barroso will represent the Commission as full member of the G8 summit, which this year takes place under Japanese Presidency at Toyako (Hokkaido, Japan).

Alongside with the leaders of four EU member states (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom) as well as the United States, Russia, Canada, and Japan, President Barroso will push for a coordinated international response to common challenges related to climate change, development/Africa, increased food and energy prices and the world economy.

During the summit G8 leaders will meet their counterparts from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, South Africa in the context of the Major Economies. The G8 will also meet with two groups of so-called "outreach countries" (Outreach 8: Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania; Outreach 5: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa).

President Barroso, will call for meaningful and ambitious long-term goals to combat climate change so as to provide an impetus to the ongoing UN climate negotiations and to facilitate a global agreement by 2009. He will make a case for industrialised countries leading by example and engaging emerging economies and developing countries in the fight against climate change in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

On development and Africa, President Barroso, will continue pleading for substantial progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, by calling on partners to stick to commitments on development aid and by enhancing regional integration, private investment and aid for trade as well as support for agriculture in a spirit of partnership.

On increased food and energy prices, President Barroso will work with the other leaders to a coordinated international response, after the European Union had proposed short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions on both issues.

The context:

The summit takes place at a time where multiple global challenges require more than ever the commitment and determination of G8 leaders to promote coordinated international action. A series of events, like the ongoing UN climate change negotiations, the FAO conference in Rome, G8 ministerial meetings, the TICAD IV conference for African development and the European Council of 19-20 June have helped shaping this response. The G8 summit therefore is a crucial occasion to provide political impetus in finding solutions.

The European Union for its part has responded swiftly to these challenges:

In January 2008, the Commission proposed a most ambitious climate action and renewable energy package that is not only the European contribution to fighting climate change, but also demonstrated that a fair and balanced approach in effort-sharing does not hamper economic development.

In April, the Commission outlined its approach on how to increase quality and quantity of development aid and proposed to better monitor the European commitments to development aid by means of multiannual programming and reporting to the Commission.

Finally, the Commission had adopted two Communications on food prices and energy prices in May and June that fed into the discussions and conclusions of the European Council on 19-20 June.

The event:

Participation of President Barroso at the G8 summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan. A Technical Briefing will be organised in Brussels shortly before the summit.

  • EbS coverage

The sources:
IP and MEMO on the 2008 G8 summit (to be published shortly before the summit)

IP/07/757: President Barroso calls for G8 progress on climate change and trade and highlights African development

IP/08/548: Commission: EU must stand by its promises and deliver on development aid if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goals

IP/08/763: Commission outlines European response to mitigate effects of rising global food prices

IP/08/916: Commission calls for swift adoption of energy and climate policies as best coordinated response to rising oil prices.

MEMO/07/221: FAQs: the G8 Summit

MEMO/08/380: The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC)

MEMO/08/421: Commission's / EU's response to the high oil and food prices

Site of the G8 summit:

Site of President Barroso:

The contacts:
Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 2 295 3070
Jens Mester +32 2 296 3973

Tuesday 8 July: Increasing the share of fruit and vegetables in the diets of children

The news:

In light of the dramatic increase in obesity amongst schoolchildren, highlighted in the recently published Commission White Paper "A strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity" and following a request from the Council, the Commission will adopt a proposal for a School Fruit Scheme.

The proposal is based on an evaluation of the benefits, practicality and costs involved and a public consultation launched in December 2007.

The aim of the scheme at EU level is to provide a framework for Member State initiatives to increase the share of fruit and vegetables in the diets of children, at the stage when their eating habits are formed.

The background:

In the context of the reform of the Common Market Organisation (CMO) for fruit and vegetables, adopted in June 2007, the Council asked the Commission to come forward with a proposal for an EU school fruit scheme.

The event:
Press conference by Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel in Strasbourg – 17.30.

A press release will be issued

• Available on EbS

The sources:
IP/07/810: CAP reform: Fruit and Vegetable reform will raise competitiveness, promote consumption, ease market crises and improve environmental protection

European Commission's website:

Commissioner Fisher-Boel's blog:

The contacts:
Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80
Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28

Wednesday 9 July: Cohesion policy offers great opportunities for SMEs

The news:

Cohesion Policy offers great opportunities for the creation and development of Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe in the new programming period 2007-2013. Planned investment in SMEs is worth €27 billion in the period from 2007 to 2013, through programmes which will be implemented by the Member States.

The background:

Cohesion Policy action for SMEs is part of the overall European Commission effort to boost these entreprises, which will be further emphasised in a few days with the adoption of the "Small Business Act for Europe". In fact, 99% of businesses in the EU are SMEs, providing about two-thirds of all private sector jobs. They are the backbone of the European economy and their development will contribute to the success of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs.

Over and above the substantial financial contribution, the policy improves SMEs' access to finance through the new "JEREMIE" programme (Joint Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) as well as access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), and new business infrastructures and support services in response to their needs.

The event:

11:30: Press conference by Commissioner Danuta Hübner in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels

• Available on EbS

The sources:
SPEECH/07/226: "SMEs are drivers for growth in European regions"
IP/06/693: Three new initiatives for cohesion policy launched in Brussels by Regional policy Commissioner Danuta Hübner and international financial institutions
MEMO/06/219: JEREMIE: A Joint REGIO-EIF / EIB initiative supporting improved access to finance for SME

For more information on the JEREMIE programme:

DG Regional Policy website:

The contacts:
Eva Kaluzynska +32 2 2992615
Constantina Avraam +32 2 29 59667

Friday 11 July: Donors Conference for Kosovo

The news:

The European Commission and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn will be hosting a Donors Conference for Kosovo, in Brussels, European Union Member States, key international donors, International Financial Institutions as well as international and UN agencies will be invited. The aim of the Conference will be to collect pledges from donors for Kosovo’s socio-economic development, to create the conditions for growth, investment and jobs for all communities in one of the poorest parts of Europe.

The background:

In calling this Conference, the Commission is responding to the Conclusions on Kosovo of the December European Council, which declared that ‘The EU will also be ready to assist economic and political development through a clear European perspective, in line with the European perspective of the region.’

Kosovo is facing considerable financial requirements to respond to its institution-building and pressing socio-economic development needs. The Kosovo authorities have drawn up their own programme for development that will address key challenges like investing in the infrastructure to connect Kosovo with the rest of the region, improving the conditions for education of Kosovo’s extremely young population (where some schools to operate 3 shifts per day), developing Kosovo’s institutions to consolidate democracy and rule of law in a multi-ethnic society. Donors will be invited to contribute to this plan.

The event:

The conference is held in the Commission's 'Charlemagne' building, in Brussels.

9.00 Opening session of the Conference, transmitted in the 'Berlaymont' press room

9.30 Press point in the 'Berlaymont' press room

In the afternoon Closing press conference in the "Charlemagne" building, time tbc.

• The event is available on EbS.

The sources:
IP/08/913: Donors Conference for Kosovo

COM (2008) 127 5.3.2008: Communication from the European Commission – Western Balkans: Enhancing the European Perspective

Conference page:

Commissioner Rehn's website:

The contacts:
Krisztina Nagy +32 2 29 88663
Anna-Kaisa Itkonen +32 2 29 93849

Thursday 11 July: Multilingualism – Recommendations aiming to improve the competitiveness of companies, the employability and mobility of workers, and awareness-raising

The news:

The Business Forum, a group of top European managers chaired by Etienne Davignon, focused on identifying how enhanced multilingual language skills can improve company competitiveness in the economy, in partnership with business, education and public authorities. It will present its final report in the presence of Commissioner Orban.

The background:

On the occasion of the September 2007 Brussels Conference on linguistic skills and competitiveness and as part of the development of a strategy for multilingualism, the Commission created a Forum of business leaders and managers of human resources. Its remit was to focus on the partnership between business, education and public authorities to enhance language learning in favour of the economy. The Forum, chaired by Viscount Etienne Davignon, former Belgian commissioner and a successful businessman, brings together a group of top European managers.

The discussions have focused on investment in language skills and intercultural competence of employees in the context of identifying how companies can make operational use of language management as part of their efforts to maximise their economic performance.

The event:

Press conference to present the Final report of the European Commission Business Forum, following the midday briefing, Berlaymont’s press room, Brussels

  • EBS coverage.

The sources:
Commissioner's website:

Translation DG:

Languages in the EU website

European Commission Languages Portal:

The contacts:
Pietro Petrucci +32 2 298 94 92
Roger Nunn +32 2 295 36 47

Tuesday 16 July: Solutions to modernise and simplify the current tobacco tax rules

The news:

The European Commission will present a report on the tobacco tax Directive, which will be accompanied by a proposal to amend the existing rules, taking into account the smooth functioning of the single market and wider objectives of the EU.

Substantial differences in tax and price levels of tobacco products lead to considerable cross-border smuggling and consequently distort the Internal Market and undermine the budgetary and health objectives of the Member States.

The Commission therefore takes the view that the existing rules should be:

  • modernised, simplified and made more transparent, in order to create a level playing field for producers, importers and retailers and to ensure stability of budgetary resources for Member States.
  • brought in line with the EU's health objectives to discourage tobacco consumption

The background:

Existing tax rules for tobacco are the outcome of discussions which started more than 20 years ago. Today, the current international market environment is very dynamic, with many different brands and price ranges. Tobacco taxation rules are not designed for this new situation in most Member States.

Moreover, smoking is still the biggest single cause of avoidable death in the EU. The level of excise duties is a crucial element in determining the tax inclusive price of tobacco products. Taxation therefore remains a very effective tool to prevent smoking.

The event:

Press conference at 11:00 made by Commissioner Kovács, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union (Press room BERL- Brussels).

• EbS coverage

The sources:
Tobacco taxation:

Outcome of the public consultation:

Commissioner Kovacs' website:

The contacts:
Maria Assimakopoulou +32 2 295 9842
Emer Traynor +32 2 292 1548

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