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Brussels Friday 5 December

Top News from the European Commission
8 December to 28 December 2008

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


Monday 8 December:
Improving the energy efficiency of household electrical appliances. 3


Monday 8 December:
Facilitating organ donation and transplantation. 4


Tuesday 9 December:
Presentation of the challenges facing the regions of Europe
with a 2020 perspective
. 5


Tuesday 9 – Wednesday 10 December:
European policy makers discuss the future research infrastructures of the EU
with top scientists
. 6


Wednesday 10 December (date tbc):
Commission Report on implementation of free movement directive
in Member States
. 7


Wednesday 10 December:
Pharmaceuticals Package. 8


Wednesday 10 – Thursday 11 December:
EU Open Health Forum: "Developing and Implementing Health
in the European Union"
. 9


Friday 12 December:
Culture Programme Conference – Culture in Motion. 10


Friday 12 December:
With the accession of Switzerland, the Schengen space includes now
25 countries.


Friday 12 December:
8th report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement
of the euro area
. 12


Tuesday 16 December:
A new framework for European cooperation in education and training. 13


Tuesday 16 December:
Action Plan on Intelligent Transport Systems and proposal for a Directive. 14


Tuesday, 16 December:
Revision of the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) 16


Tuesday 16 December:
New Skills for New Jobs. 17


Wednesday 17 December:
Important measures for workers expected this week in the EP. 18


Thursday 18 – Friday 19 December:
Council decides fishing possibilities for 2009 on the Commission's proposal 20


Monday 22 December:
EU-Brazil Summit 21


Monday 8 December: Improving the energy efficiency of household electrical appliances

The news:

The Regulatory Committee of the Eco-design directive will meet on 8th of December to give its opinion on the new energy efficiency requirements for household light bulbs that may lead to the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs.

The background:

Ecodesign aims at improving the environmental performance of energy using products such as household electrical appliances, and in particular at reducing their energy consumption.

The framework Ecodesign directive defines the principles, conditions and criteria for the Commission to set environmental requirements for energy-using appliances. This is done for given products via implementing measures which the Commission adopts following consultations with interested parties, an impact assessment and after a vote by the Member State delegations and the scrutiny of the European Parliament and of the Council.

In principle, the framework directive covers all energy-using products but in practice the Commission targets those products that have a significant environmental impact and in particular those presenting high potential for higher energy efficiency. The measures apply to all products that are placed on the EU market.  This time the committee will examine the measures planned to enhance the efficiency of domestic lighting.

The event:

In the morning of 8 December, the day of the vote in the committee: Technical Briefing off the record in the Berlaymont press room at 10.45

Should the vote be positive (this requires a qualified majority of the Member States), later in the afternoon (likely between 17 and 18), there will be a presentation of the measure by Commissioner Piebalgs and Presidency Minister Borloo in the Council building (where the Energy Council will be taking place).

Available on EbS (tbc)

The sources:

European Commission's website on the Ecodesign Directive and its implementing measures:


Commissioner Piebalgs'blog:


I-053282  Energy efficiency: Berlaymont building

I-052158  Energy efficiency

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny          +32 2 296 6293    

Marilyn Carruthers                      +32 2 299 9451    

Monday 8 December: Facilitating organ donation and transplantation

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a proposal for a Directive and an Action Plan in the field of human organs.

The directive sets basic safety and quality principles in relation to the donation and procurement of human organs, whereas the action plan has a complementing role and proposes ten actions in order to strengthen the coordination between EU countries on organ donation and transplantation.

The background:

The number of organs being donated within the European Union has stayed stable over the last years and most countries suffer from a sever shortage. Not having enough organs for transplantation means that people die from conditions, which, in theory, could be treated.

Currently almost 40 000 patients are on waiting lists in Europe. Mortality rates while waiting for a heart, liver or lung transplant usually range from 15 to 30%.

The event:

Press Conference with Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels at 12.30

Technical Briefing (to be confirmed)

Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on organ donation:


Commissioner Vassiliou's website:


I-050598 Health and Consumer Protection: Organs Donors

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki           +32 2 29  86378

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29  72686

Tuesday 9 December: Presentation of the challenges facing the regions of Europe with a 2020 perspective

The news:

Commissioner Hübner will present the findings of the new "REGIONS 2020" report, which constitutes the first analytical basis for the debate on the future cohesion policy.

The report identifies four main challenges with a 2020 perspective - adapting to globalisation, demographic change, climate change, and the energy challenge. Using a series of indicators, it maps out the degree of vulnerability of European regions to these challenges, and examines the potential disparities that these may generate across the EU.

The background:

Against the backdrop of a turbulent global economic landscape, it is clearer than ever before that EU policies must be reviewed to adapt to changing times and pressures from new challenges. As one of the dominant areas of the EU budget, it is vital that cohesion policy positions itself to tackle new challenges and adapts its priorities for investment.

The report marks one of the first stages in the reflection process on the future shape and spending priorities of the policy.

The event:

Press Conference by Commissioner Hübner in Brussels on "REGIONS 2020" at 11.30 in the Berlaymont press room

Available on EbS

The sources:

SPEECH/08/652 – "Regional challenges at 2020 horizon", Informal meeting of ministers in charge of cohesion policy, 28/11/2008, Marseille


SPEECH/08/366 – "EU regional policy post-2013: more of the same, or a new beginning?", European Policy Centre, 01/07/2008,  Brussels


More information on regional policy in the EU:


Commissioner Hübner's website:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott                +32 2 29 59258    

Constantina Avraam       +32 2 29 59667    

Tuesday 9 – Wednesday 10 December: European policy makers discuss the future research infrastructures of the EU with top scientists

The news:

The European Commission is organising a conference, together with the French Research Ministry and the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures, to discuss how European research infrastructures can maximise resources and build capacities for world-class research and technological innovation: the European Conference on Research Infrastructures (ECRI).

ECRI 2008, which will take place in Versailles 9 – 11 December, is one of the main research events under the French EU Presidency.

The background:

Research Infrastructures such as radiation sources, large-scale lasers, data banks in genomics, observatories for environmental sciences, advanced imaging systems, and testing facilities for the development of new materials, are at the core of research and innovation processes in Europe. Improving the capacity and performance of existing research infrastructures and preparing the next generation of research infrastructures is a key priority of the FP7 and of the Lisbon process for Jobs and Growth.

The European Conference on Research Infrastructures is organised every two years. This year's European Conference on Research Infrastructures – ECRI 2008 – will focus on enhancing pan-European cooperation and improving technology transfer between research and industrial applications.

600 high level policy makers, research infrastructure managers, leading scientists and industry representatives from 30 countries will meet in Versailles on the 9 and 10 December, to discuss at a wide range of issues such as meeting economic, industrial and societal needs, research recruitment, capacity building, governance, and the design of next generation of research infrastructures.

ECRI 2008 is the 5th European Conference on Research Infrastructures. It is organised jointly by the European Commission, the French Research Ministry and the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures, in the context of the French Presidency.

The event:

9 December: Press conference with Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Valérie Pécresse, French Minister for Higher Education & Research, Vlastimil Růžička, Czech Vice-Minister, Education, Youth, Sports, Annette Schavan, German Minister for Research, and Carlo Rizzuto, Chairman, European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), 12.30 in the press conference room of the Palais des Congrès, Versailles.

The press conference will be followed by a two day press programme for journalists with visits to major infrastructures in the Versailles/Saclay area. Journalists who are interested in participating should contact: Patrick Vittet-Philippe, press officer and coordinator (DG RTD), +32 477 274 663

The sources:

IP/08/1142 on European Research Infrastructures:

MEMO/08/504 on the European Research Infrastructures:

Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Patrick Vittet-Philippe     +32 477 274 663  

Catherine Ray                +32 2 296 9921

Wednesday 10 December (date tbc): Commission Report on implementation of free movement directive in Member States

The news:

The Commission is expected to adopt a report on the directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.

The Commission Report is an inventory of how Member States have transposed and applied the Directive since its adoption.

The background:

The directive 2004/38/EC was adopted on 29 April 2004 by the European Parliament and the Council. On 30 April 2006, the deadline expired for the Member States to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive.

The directive was put in place in order to overcome difficulties identified by several reports on the instruments of free movement such as lengthy administrative procedures and problems associated with the rights of family members, especially when they are third country nationals.

The main innovations and achievements of the directive are the provision of a single, simple legal instrument and legal regime, the extension of family reunification rights, the reduction of administrative formalities and the provision of a right of permanent residence after five years of residence in the host Member State and an increased protection against expulsion.

The event:

Press Conference of Vice President Jacques Barrot. In the Berlaymont Press room. Date and time tbc.

Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/06/554 (05/2006): Enhancement of free movement and residence rights for EU citizens: a new milestone in EU integration process


MEMO/06/179 (05/2006): The Directive on the right to move and reside freely in the Union / Seven million European citizens already live in another Member State


European Commission's website:


Commissioner Barrot's website:

The contacts:

Michele Cercone            022980963

Riccardo Mosca             02/2961404

Wednesday 10 December: Pharmaceuticals Package

The news:

EU policy in the field of medicines for human use has always had the dual mission of safeguarding public health while providing an environment that stimulates innovation and supports the competitiveness of the EU industry. Much has been achieved in the last forty years. At the beginning of the 21st century Europe is now facing new public health, scientific and economic challenges:

  • the globalisation of the sector and the increasing internationalisation of the value chain;
  • the smooth functioning of the internal market in a widening Europe; and
  • advances in science and technology.

Globalisation brings both challenges and opportunities. The emergence of worldwide health threats, such as the increasing number of counterfeit medicines or pandemic influenza, the internationalisation of the value chain and the rise of new players in the global competition provide compelling grounds to intensify international cooperation. Two objectives must be met: first, to better protect the health of EU citizens; but also, to strengthen the competitiveness of European companies by removing regulatory and non-regulatory barriers which impede access to foreign markets and by ensuring fair international competition.

Following wide consultation with stakeholders the Commission intends to present to the Council of Ministers and to European Parliament a package of proposals on the future of the EU single market in pharmaceuticals for human use, outlining its vision and strategy for the sector, as well as concrete action items.

The background:

The European-based pharmaceutical sector makes a valuable contribution to the economic, social and research life of the European Union.

Pharmaceutical companies employ 645 000 workers in Europe (2007), including around 100 000 people in research and development. It also makes a significant contribution to the European Union's trade balance (€49 billion in 2007) and a substantial investment in the European science base (€26 billion in 2007).

The event:

Press Conference by Vice President Verheugen in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels. Time tbc.

Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/06/1282 - Pharmaceutical Forum

SPEECH/06/547 - Delivering better information, better access and better prices

IP/08/1451 - Pharmaceutical Forum concluded successfully

Pharmaceutical Forum

The future of pharmaceuticals for human use in Europe:

The contacts:

Ton Van Lierop             + 32 2 29665.65

Catherine Bunyan          + 32 2 299.65.12  

Wednesday 10 – Thursday 11 December: EU Open Health Forum: "Developing and Implementing Health in the European Union"

The news:

To strengthen stakeholder involvement in the European Health Policy, Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou will open the third EU Open Health Forum in Brussels.

The conference is open to all with an interest in EU health policy, and will discuss:

1. How the EU Health Strategy can influence the health status, health determinants and health care systems in the EU

2. What are the challenges for implementing the Health Strategy, and how the stakeholders can be involved.


The workshops will focus on:

- Healthy lifestyles for young people

- Europe for Patients campaign

- Maximising Health Benefits for Citizens through New Technologies

The background:

The EU Open Health Forum is a mechanism for the European Commission to get feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of the EU Health Policy and to identify need for new policy initiatives.

It also provides opportunities for networking and exchange of best practice in the implementation of public health policies at EU, national, regional and local level.

The event:

Commissioner Vassiliou will open the conference on 10 December 2008 at 17.00 in the lobby (Piazza) of the Commission's Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The conference on 11 December will take place in the Charlemagne building, in Brussels.

Participants are requested to register in:

The conference will be webstreamed

The sources:

Conference website:


Website for the Europe for Patients campaign:

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki           +32-2-298 63 78   

Antonie Kerwien             +32-2-29 72686    

Friday 12 December: Culture Programme Conference – Culture in Motion

The news:

The first Culture Programme Conference will take place in Brussels to focus on presenting past and on-going project results in the Commission's flagship funding programmes in the area of culture: Culture 2000 (2000-2006) and the Culture Programme (2007 - 2013).

The aim of the event is to enable exchange of experience and good practice between cultural operators.

The background:

The EU’s Culture programme (2007-2013) has a budget of €400 million for projects and initiatives to celebrate Europe’s cultural diversity and enhance our shared cultural heritage through the development of cross-border co-operation between cultural operators and institutions.

Culture 2000 was a Community programme established for seven years (2000-2006) to provide grants to cultural cooperation projects in all artistic and cultural fields (performing arts, plastic and visual arts, literature, heritage, cultural history, etc.).

The event:

The Conference will be opened on 12 December by Odile Quintin, Director General of the DG Education and Culture.

Venue: Charlemagne building 170 rue de la Loi-1000 Brussels – from 8.30 am to 6 pm.

The event will consist of plenary sessions as well as a complimentary exhibition where 35 projects will be showcased, and which will provide an opportunity for networking. During the plenary sessions 10 selected projects focusing on 5 themes will be presented. These themes are:

  • Mobility of artists/Circulation of works;
  • Access to culture/Culture and education
  • Access to cultural heritage
  • Intercultural dialogue (European Year 2008)
  • Creativity and innovation (European Year 2009)

The sources:

European Commission Culture web site:


The Conference programme:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald        +32 2 295 52 67

Sophie Andersson          +32 2 295 02 08

Friday 12 December: With the accession of Switzerland, the Schengen space includes now 25 countries.

The news:

Switzerland is accessing the Schengen area on the 12th of December 2008. The Council Decision on the lifting of border controls with Switzerland will be officially approved by EU interior ministers during the Council on 27th November.

With the entry of Switzerland, the enlarged Schengen area will consist of 25 countries where travel is possible without internal border controls on persons.

Airport controls will be dropped as of March 29 (subject to a positive evaluation in February).

The background:

Negotiations in view of associating Switzerland, wanting to participate in the Schengen acquis began in July 2002. The association of Switzerland to Schengen was approved by the Swiss via referendum in June 2005. On the 1st of March 2008, the Schengen/Dublin association agreements with Switzerland entered into force.

The Schengen acquis abolishes the checks at internal borders of the Schengen Member States and creates a single external frontier, where checks for all the Schengen Member States are to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules. The Schengen acquis was incorporated into the legal framework of the European Union by means of protocols attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999.

The last enlargement of the Schengen space took place in 21 December 2007 and concerned 9 new Member States (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia)

The event:

To be decided

The sources:

IP/07/1968 - Last enlargement of the Schengen space in 2007


MEMO/07/618 - Background on Schengen enlargement


European Commission's website:


Commissioner Barrot's website:


I-042167: EU enlargement: northern border - 2003

The contacts:

Michele Cercone            +32 2 298 0963

Riccardo Mosca             +32 2296 1404

Friday 12 December: 8th 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 Slovakia as well as other developments that may have occurred in other European Union countries that have not yet adopted the single currency (and do not have an opt out, i.e. the countries with a so-called derogation). The last report was published in July.  Slovakia will adopt the euro on 1 January 2009.

This report will pay particular attention to the final preparations for the changeover in Slovakia, in particular the introduction of euro cash into the economy, the preparation of the private sector and of the public at large.

The background:

The report on the Practical Preparations for the euro 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 to be able to adopt 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 make their purchases in euro from the first €-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 event:

Publication of a press release

The sources:

Seventh report on the practical preparations for the future enlargement of the euro area (issued on 18.7.2008):


IP/08/1183: Practical preparations for the euro: final countdown for Slovakia


2008 Convergence report:


IP/08/715: Commission assesses readiness of 10 EU countries to adopt the euro; proposes Slovakia joins euro area in 2009


All relevant documents concerning the euro:


Commissioner Almunia's website:


I-052749: Introduction of the euro in Slovenia

I-055762: Introduction of the euro in Malta

I-052763: Introduction of the euro in Cyprus

The contacts:

Amelia Torres                + 32 2 295 4629

Marisa González            + 32 2 295 1925

Tuesday 16 December: A new framework for European cooperation in education and training

The news:

The Commission will adopt a Communication setting out long term strategic challenges for European education and training systems, immediate priorities for cooperation in 2009-2010 and tools supporting the cooperation between the Member States, including for monitoring the progress made at the European level. 

Long-term strategic challenges:

  • Make lifelong learning and learner mobility a reality
  • Improve the quality and efficiency of provision and outcomes
  • Promote equity and active citizenship
  • Enhance innovation and creativity, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training

The background:

EU Member States and the European Commission have in recent years strengthened their political cooperation in education and training at the European level. The focus is on exchanging good practice and developing common tools, in order to face common challenges such as the need for higher skills, the ageing of societies and globalisation. The importance of education for the EU was underlined in the recent Commission Communication on 'A European Economic Recovery Plan' on 26 November, which calls on Member States to increase investment in R&D, innovation and education to stimulate growth and productivity.

While some EU Member States perform at a level comparable to the best in the world, the poor performance of others means that issues such as reading literacy and early school leaving remain substantial challenges for Europe. Every sixth young person still leaves school with only compulsory education attainment level or below. Many learners with a migrant background succeed less well in education and training than their native peers. Adults with low education attainment are seven times less likely to be engaged in continuing education and training than those with high attainment levels. More learners should have the opportunity to spend a period of their studies or training abroad.

The forthcoming Communication will set priorities for cooperation between the Commission, Member States and civil society in the coming years. The current economic crisis must not divert our attention from setting the right long-term strategies for education and training policies which will help us meet future challenges with confidence.

The event:

Press conference in the Berlaymont press room. (tbc)

Available on EbS (tbc)

The sources:

Recent speech of Commissioner Figel' on "Lifelong learning for all: how long to get there?":

IP/08/1127: "Annual report on education systems in the EU confirms slow but steady progress", 10/07/2008

European Commission's website on education and training policy:

I-044049  Education 2004

The contacts:

John MacDonald            +

Sophie Andersson          +

Tuesday 16 December: Action Plan on Intelligent Transport Systems and proposal for a Directive

The news:

The Action Plan on Intelligent Transport Systems is the follow-up of the 2006 Mid-Term review of the White Paper on Transport Policy, which highlighted the significant part that applications of information and communication technologies to transport (i.e. Intelligent Transport Systems) can play in making road transport more sustainable (safer, cleaner, more efficient and seamless).

This Action Plan outlines priority areas to accelerate the coordinated deployment and use of ITS applications and services across the European Union.  It includes specific measures in six areas:

-         Optimal use of road and traffic data

-         Traffic and freight management

-         Road safety and security

-         Integrating ITS applications in the vehicle

-         Data protection and liability

-         European ITS co-ordination


The Action Plan is accompanied by a proposal of Directive providing a framework for the implementation of this ITS Action Plan. The obligations imposed to the Member States will be supported by the Commission through the establishment of common specifications aimed at ensuring the EU-wide coordinated deployment of interoperable ITS. The Commission will be assisted in its work by a European ITS Committee (with representatives of the EU countries) to exchange information and decide on actions and a European ITS Advisory Group (with representatives from e.g. industry, transport operators, users and other relevant fora and associations) to advise on business, technical and user aspects.

The background

Traffic on European roads keeps increasing at a rapid pace: there are more cars and trucks on the roads driving more kilometres. As a result we are facing more traffic jams, higher fuel bills and increased CO2 emissions. Still, more than 40 000 people are killed on EU roads each year. These problems cannot be solved by building additional or by extending roads.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) can contribute to the solution by making transport safer, more efficient and competitive, more sustainable and more secure. ITS does this by applying the latest information and communication technologies (telephone, satellite, computer, etc.) to transport. Examples in road transport include travel information, navigation and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

But the use of ITS in road transport in Europe is still uneven and good ITS solutions and approaches are very often only locally applied. A patchwork of national, regional and local solutions is slowing down overall deployment and fails to provide seamless service. To overcome these problems and make full use of the great potential which ITS offers, not only for the road user, but also for all involved players including the industry and the public authorities, a new initiative is required.

The event:

To be confirmed

The sources:

European transport policy for 2010: time to decide


Mid Term review of the European Commission's 2001 Transport White Paper"


DG TREN Transport website:


Commissioner Tajani's website:

The contacts:

Fabio Pirotta      +32 2 29 67284

Andrea Maresi   +32 2 29 90403

Tuesday, 16 December: Revision of the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF)

The news:

As announced in the European Economic Recovery Plan on November 26th, the European Commission will propose a revision of the Regulation setting up the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The aim of the revision, which also builds on the first annual report issued last July on the operation of the Fund, is to enhance the performance of the Fund as a crisis response instrument and to further improve its impact on the creation of training and new job opportunities for Europe's workers. The proposal of the Commission will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council.

The background:

The EGF is an instrument of solidarity which helps workers made redundant as a result of globalisation to find their way back into work. It was established at the end of 2006.

The EGF may give a financial contribution in cases where more than 1,000 workers in an enterprise or a regional sector are made redundant due to major structural changes in world trade patterns leading to substantially increased imports into the EU or a rapid decline in EU market shares.

It supports active labour market policy measures with the objective of reintegrating redundant workers into employment as fast as possible. These may include, among other things, job-search assistance, occupational guidance, tailor-made training and re-training including IT skills and certification of acquired experience and aid for self-employment.

There have been eight applications approved and paid under the EGF so far, for a total amount of over €32 million. An additional four applications from Italy for textile workers have just been adopted by the Budgetary Authority. EGF cases have so far concerned redundancies in the automotive industry in France, Portugal and Spain, in the mobile phone sector in Germany and Finland, and in the textile sector in Malta, Lithuania and Italy.

As part of the process of revision, all options are currently under consideration.

The event:

Presentation by the Commission and possible press conference. A press release will be issued.

The sources:

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF):


MEMO/08/464: Annual report on the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF)


EU jobs and growth strategy:


Commissioner Špidla's website:


I-055179: Facing up to a globalised world

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes             +32 2 296 44 50

Giles Goodall                 +32 2 298 48 86

Tuesday 16 December: New Skills for New Jobs

The news:

The Commission is proposing a New Skills for New Jobs initiative to improve European and national capacities to assess, forecast and anticipate the skills needs of its citizens and companies. This will help ensure a better match between skills and future labour market needs. 

This Communication presents a first assessment of the Union’s future skills and jobs requirements up to 2020. It proposes a series of actions to organise this assessment on a permanent basis, to pool the efforts of Member States and other international organisations, and to develop better information on future needs. 

The background:

Across Europe, technological change, globalisation, ageing populations and the evolution of social structures are accelerating changes in labour markets and skills requirements, for new and existing jobs alike.

To exploit new opportunities for job creation, there is a need not only to upgrade current skills, but to forecast which new skills and competences will be necessary in the future. This is even more important in the present climate of economic uncertainty. The EU's workforce needs to be equipped to face the challenges of this uncertain future.

These efforts will help to better match the supply of skills and the needs of employers, who need not simply more skills but also the right skills. Anticipating and developing new skills and competences should be a top priority for policy makers, public authorities, education and training providers, companies, workers and students.

The event:

Press event (details to be confirmed).

The sources:

More info on News Skills for New Jobs:

More information on Employment in the EU:

More information on the European strategy and co-operation in education and training:


The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP):


Commissioner Špidla's website:

Commissioner Figel's website:

The contacts:

Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities:

Chantal Hughes             +32 2 296 44 50   

Giles Goodall                 +32 2 299 88 94   


Education and training:

John MacDonald            +   

Sophie Andersson          +   

Wednesday 17 December: Important measures for workers expected this week in the EP

The news:

Two important votes are expected for this session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg which could make a real difference to workers rights.

The first vote will be the Parliament's first reading on the proposal to amend the European Works Councils directive. The objective of the proposal is to further encourage new Councils to be set up and to improve the quality of information and consultation taking place between management and employees in companies. This initiative is particularly important in the context of the financial crisis and restructuring taking place across Europe, as well as relocations. The Commission hopes that a first reading deal will take place this year, based on its proposal and the joint advice provided by the European Social Partners.

The second vote is the Parliament's second reading on the revision of the Working Time Directive following the Council' Common Position of 9th June. The Commission wants to see a solution to this long running dossier once and for all and as quickly as possible. An agreement is particularly important for countries faced with on-call time problems: the Commission cannot accept to see health systems grind to a halt. The Commission supports the Council's Common Position as it represents real improvements for workers, and was a hard-fought compromise. Any final agreement will need the support of both the Council and the European Parliament.

The background

The Working Time Directive sets a limit to average weekly working time of 48 hours per week. The main issues on which Parliament and Council are divided are whether on-call time (for example, by hospital doctors who agree to remain available overnight at the workplace to deal with emergencies) should be fully counted towards working time limits, and whether the 'opt-out' should be abolished ('opt-out' = where a worker agrees to work more than the normal maximum of 48 hours per week on average.)

The Directive amending the existing directive on Working Time has been on the table since 2005. Many Member States are in breach of the legislation as currently interpreted by the European Court of Justice (Simap/Jaeger ruling). According to these rulings, on-call time must be counted as working time. Without a new directive, the Commission would have to open infringement procedures.

European Works Councils are bodies representing the European employees of a company. Through them, workers are informed and consulted by management on the progress of the business and any significant decision at European level that could affect their employment or working conditions. There are approximately 820 European Works Councils involving 19,000 employee representatives and affecting the lives of almost 15 million workers.

The new initiative proposes to amend the 1994 directive to make them more efficient. While European Works Councils have been successful in many areas, they cannot fully play their role in anticipating and properly managing change and in developing genuine cross-border social dialogue.

The 1994 legal framework on European Works Councils therefore needs to be adapted to changes in the legislative, economic and social context, where the cross-border dimension proves more and more important, and to be clarified on different aspects. The aim is that European Works Council will operate under increased legal certainty with better links to information and consultation procedures at national level.

The event:

EP vote on Working Time Directive and European Works Councils in Strasbourg during the plenary session of the European parliament.

Available on EbS

The sources:

More information on European Works Councils


More information on working time


Commissioner Špidla's website:


I-050500: Employment : Mobility of employees - 2006

I-047217: Employment: Lisbon Strategy - 2005

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes             +32 2 296 44 50

Giles Goodall                 +32 2 298 48 86

Thursday 18 – Friday 19 December: Council decides fishing possibilities for 2009 on the Commission's proposal

The news:

Council will debate and adopt annual fishing possibilities for 2009, based on the Commission's proposal tabled on 10 November.

This proposal covers the main commercial stocks in the North-East Atlantic, including the North Sea. The fishing opportunities decided by Council will apply from 1 January 2009.

The background:

The Commission's proposal is based on scientific advice from ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, and follows the principles already set out in the Commission's policy statement published in May.

Most fish stocks in the areas concerned continue to be overfished, and the Commission is therefore proposing less fishing in the short term to allow stocks to rebuild. This is especially the case for white fish West of Scotland (no directed fishing), cod stocks under the recovery plan (-25%) and West of Scotland herring (-25%). The Commission is also proposing zero catch for certain shark species, and to keep the Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery closed until the state of the stock can be assessed in spring 2009. Following the revision of the cod recovery plan, a system to limit fishing effort in cod fisheries based on kilowatt-days, rather than days-at-sea, is also being introduced. 

The event:

Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting + joint Commission/presidency press conference following political agreement, Council Press room, Justus Lipsius building.

The sources:

IP/08/1669 - Fisheries: Policy on quotas shows benefits but more efforts are needed for 2009


IP/08/828 - Commission: policy statement proposes major changes in fisheries management regimes for 2009


Commissioner Borg's website:


External sources - ICES advice of October 2008:


I-054466: Fisheries: operation Shark - 2007

I-058337: Fisheries: Control of bluefin tuna fishing

The contacts:

Nathalie Charbonneau                +32 2 296 3763

Lone Mikkelsen                         +32 2 296 0567

Monday 22 December: EU-Brazil Summit

The news:

The EU and Brazil will hold their second Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Leaders will exchange views on issues such as the coordination of responses to the international financial and economic crisis, along the lines set-up at the recent G20 meeting in Washington, climate change and energy, the  prospects for a resumption of negotiations for a successful outcome of the Doha round, and South American regional issues.

The Summit will also review developments in the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership, launched in 2007 at the occasion of the first EU-Brazil Summit and to  launch a road map  of priorities – the Joint Action Plan, for  the coming three years.

The background:

Brazil has become in recent years a regional and global power, based on a fast growing economic activity and a strong commitment to engage in the discussions on main global challenges in main international fora, from peace and security and development cooperation to energy security and climate change.

The EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership sets a new level of ambition in the EU relation with Brazil, especially at the uppermost political high level and through its emphasis on international cooperation. At the same time it builds on already existing bilateral relationship, deepening and extending it in areas such as science, technology and innovation, trade and investment, regional policy, social and employment issues, migrations, etc.

A Joint Action Plan to implement the Strategic Partnership is being developed and will be endorsedby the Summit leaders. The main pillars of the Joint Action Plan are:


·         Promotion of peace and comprehensive security through effective multilateralism.

·         Enhance the Economic, Social and Environmental Partnership to promote sustainable development.

·         Promote regional cooperation.

·         Promote science, technology and innovation.

·         Promoting People-to-People and cultural exchanges.

The event:

EU-Brazil Summit, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 22 December 2008

Available on EbS

The sources:

Communication ‘Towards an EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership’, 30 May 2007


President Barroso's website:


I-054600: EU/Brazil Summit: arrivals, round table and extracts from the press conference

The contacts:

Leonor Ribeiro da Silva               +32 2 2988155

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio                +32 2 2952658

Side Bar