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AGENDA/08/5

Brussels Friday 1 February

Top News from the European Commission
4 February to 2 March 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

Tuesday 5 February: Official take-off of the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative

The news:

After adoption of the legal instrument by the Council at the end of 2007, work is now starting in earnest to create a new research programme to support cleaner, quieter and more efficient aircraft, and get it up and running as soon as possible.

This joint initiative between industry and the European Commission will be inaugurated at an event in Brussels on 5 February.

The background:

Joint Technology Initiatives are a new instrument of the EU's research programme, the 7th Framework Programme. Proposals were made in 5 areas during 2007, and four of these were adopted by the Council, after consulting with the European Parliament in December 2007.

The event:

Launch ceremony and press conference

10.00 – Ceremony and speeches by European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik and senior industry and research figures

11.15 – Press conference by Commissioner Potočnik, Åke Svensson of Saab and Marc Vantre of Safran

After the press conference, journalists are invited to take part in the lunch, where they will have the opportunity to interact with many of the researchers and industrialists involved in the Clean Sky JTI.

In the afternoon there will be technical presentations of the various components of the JTI, including the 6 technology demonstrators.

The sources:
IP/07/854 - Research project for greener aviation takes off at Paris Air Show
MEMO/07/243 - Development of environmentally friendly technologies for the Air Transport System: the Clean Sky Initiative
IP/07/1896 - Commission welcomes European Parliament's support for new EU public-private research initiatives

Clean sky website:
http://www.cleansky.eu

Commissioner Potočnik's blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/potocnik/

The contacts:
Antonia Mochan +32 2 296 9921 Antonia.Mochan@ec.europa.eu
Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 0208 Sophie.Andersson@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 6 February: Improving the support to the 23 millions SMEs in Europe

The news:

Launch of a single European network which includes 600 network outlets and +/- 2000 persons working full time to support enterprises, in particular SMEs, in all their innovation and competitiveness efforts through a wide range of services.

The background:

The Commission’s Enterprise Europe network will integrate the services currently provided by Euro Info Centres (EIC) and Innovation Relay Centres (IRC) and will offer the following services:

- information, feedback, advice and business co-operation services

- technology and knowledge transfer

- services to encourage the participation of SMEs to the FP7

The network will be hosted by business organisations (Chambers of Commerce, Development Agencies, Technology Institutes) at national and regional level. The network will be made up of some 70 consortia with more than 500 Centres in the EU27 plus EEA, Candidate and accession countries and third countries).

The legal basis for the network is the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Pillar (EIP) of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP).

The events:

Wednesday 6 February:

Launch of the new network at the Autoworld in Brussels. The event hosted by Vice-president Verheugen will bring together representatives from the former two networks and the newly created executive agency, members of the European Parliament, the European Commission, Business Unions/Institutions, Committee of the Regions, Representations to the EU, business stakeholders and Journalists specialised in SME.

Thursday 7 February:

Press conference with Vice-president Verheugen after the Midday Briefing in the press room, Berlaymont, Brussels.

• EbS' coverage (tbc)

The sources:
The Commission’s SME website:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/entrepreneurship/index_en.htm

Vice-president Verheugen's website:
www.ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/verheugen/index_fr.htm

  • Info clip is available

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

Wednesday 13 February: Launch of a border management package

The news:

The Commission will adopt a "border management package" aiming at improving external border control standards while strengthening the protection of the victims of the traffic of human beings. In this context, the package foresees:

A) A Communication on Entry/exit system and other border management tools (e.g. Electronic Travel Authorization) which main aims are to strengthen border control procedures on third-country nationals to help better management of migration flows, preventing illegal immigration, as well as any possible threats to the security of the EU and to facilitate border crossing (both on arrival and on departure from the EU) to both EU citizens and third-country nationals bona fide travellers, thus allowing to better focus resources on border controls.

B) A report on the evaluation and future development of Frontex that will be an essential assessment for the feasibility of establishing a European system of border guards should be assessed.

C) A Communication intending to propose the setting up of tree phased European Border Surveillance System. This surveillance system should noticeably increase internal security in the Schengen area by preventing illegal immigration, trafficking of human beings, terrorism etc., but also reduce considerably the tragic death toll of illegal immigrants by rescuing more lives at sea.

The background:

Border control and management are an essential and integral part of the EU common approach to migration. Complementary to the facilitation of legal immigration and in order to maintain the credibility of its immigration policies the EU needs to step up its policy against illegal immigration, in particular via combating illegal employment in the EU, the main pull factor for illegal immigration, but also by jointly controlling and managing its external borders efficiently, in full respect of human rights whilst protecting those seeking asylum or international protection.

The event:

Press Conference by Vice President F.Frattini at 11.00 in the press room, Berlaymont, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

Technical briefing after the Midday briefing in the press room, Berlaymont, Brussels.

The sources:
European Commission websites on Justice, Liberty and Security:
http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/intro/fsj_intro_fr.htm

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

  • Memoclip

The contacts:
Friso Roscam Abbing + 32 2 296 6746 friso.roscam-abbing@ec.europa.eu
Riccardo Mosca + 32 2 296 1404 riccardo.mosca@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 13 February: Annual assessment of the stability programmes for Malta, Slovenia, Austria, Cyprus and Portugal, and of the convergence programmes for Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic

The news:

At the end of each year, Member States submit to the Commission their budgetary plans for the following years. These plans are contained in so-called Stability Programmes, for those countries that have the euro, and Convergence Programmes for countries outside the euro area.

The background:

The programmes' role is to allow countries to outline their strategy to maintain or reach a balanced or surplus budgetary position in the medium term, so as to allow the Commission and the Council to conduct the surveillance of economic and budgetary developments in each country of the EU in line with the Treaty.

The Commission is assessing these programmes in four stages, the first took place on January 23, 2008. The second series of countries were examined on 30 January. And on 13 February Malta, Slovenia, Austria, Cyprus, Portugal Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic will be examined.

The last date for assessments will be, in principle: 19 February.

The event:

  • Broadcast live on EbS.

The sources:
On the assessments of stability and convergence programmes:
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/sg_pact_fiscal_policy/sg_programmes9147_en.htm

Commissioner Almunia's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/almunia/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629 amelia.torres@ec.europa.eu
Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925 Marisa.Gonzalez-Iglesias@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 14 – Monday 18 February: European science represented at the AAAS 2008 international science conference

The news:

The European Commission will be present with the strongest scientific participation ever in the yearly meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. The event, one of the biggest global science events of the year, focuses in 2008 on "Science and Technology from a Global Perspective".

European Commission participation will include a press conference and a keynote speech by Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik on the theme "Advancing Science and Fostering Innovation Through International Cooperation: A Trans-Atlantic Perspective", several press conferences on European Research Projects, a European Research booth, and 17 joint EU-US scientific symposia organised by Directorate Generals Research and Joint Research Centre, and other European scientific organisations.

The background:

The AAAS yearly meeting is among the world largest and most prestigious general scientific conference and expo, gathering over 9.000 international scientists, policy makers and science journalists. It includes a dense programme of keynotes and scientific symposia, with strong international participation, an exhibition, and a dense press programme of several dozen press briefings on recent scientific discoveries.

The event:

The event runs from 14-18 February. Commissioner Potočnik will hold a press breakfast at 8am on 15 February and later that day will take part in a high-level panel.

The sources:
Website of the conference:
www.aaas.org

Commissioner Potočnik's blog:
http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/potocnik/

The contacts:
Antonia Mochan +32 2 296 9921 Antonia.Mochan@ec.europa.eu
Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 0208 Sophie.Andersson@ec.europa.eu

Friday 15 February: First Ministerial Conference on Promoting Multilingualism

The news:

On the initiative of Commissioner Orban and the Slovenian presidency, the Ministers of Education of the EU Member States are invited to a Ministerial Conference on "Promoting Multilingualism: a shared commitment", to be held in the Berlaymont, headquarter of the European Commission.

It's the first meeting ever on this topic at this ministerial level.

The background:

Language is a key debate in the EU today, with the importance of language skills being recognised since the meeting of the Heads of State and Government in Barcelona in 2002, especially the teaching of two foreign languages from an early age.

Languages are inextricably linked to cultural identity and a feeling of inclusion. Language skills have an effect on competitiveness, inter-cultural dialogue, citizen confidence and European accountability.

The aim of the conference is to identify areas where further action on languages is needed at both national and EU levels. A further aim is to reach an agreement on the common actions to be taken for the coming 3-5 years.

It is expected that the results of the conference will be used as the basis for the Commission's communication to the Parliament and the Council proposing a comprehensive language policy, to be published in 2008.

The conference will be addressed by Commissioner Leonard Orban, Milan Zver, Slovenian minister of Education, MEP Katerina Batzeli, Chairwoman of the Education and Culture Committee, Viscount Etienne Davignon, chairman of the Business Forum, Amin Maalouf, Franco Lebanese writer and Dr Marko Stabej, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ljubljana.

The Conclusions of the Conference will be presented by Commissioner Orban and Milan Zver.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Leonard Orban from 12:30 in the press room, Berlaymont, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:
Commissioner Orban's website:
http://scic.cec.eu.int/orban/index_en.htm

Languages in the EU website:
http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/languages/index_en.htm

European Commission Languages Portal:
http://europa.eu/languages/en/home

The contacts:
Pietro Petrucci +32 2 298 94 92 pietro.petrucci@ec.europa.eu
Roger Nunn +32 2 295 36 47 roger.nunn@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 19 February: Annual assessment of the stability programmes for Ireland, Spain and Greece and of the convergence programmes for Denmark and Lithuania

The news:

At the end of each year, Member States submit to the Commission their budgetary plans for the following years. These plans are contained in so-called Stability Programmes, for those countries that have the euro, and Convergence Programmes for countries outside the euro area.

The background:

The programmes' role is to allow countries to outline their strategy to maintain or reach a balanced or surplus budgetary position in the medium term, so as to allow the Commission and the Council to conduct the surveillance of economic and budgetary developments in each country of the EU in line with the Treaty.

The Commission is assessing these programmes in four stages, of which 3 took place on January 23, January 30, and February 13. On February 19, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Denmark and Lithuania will be examined.

The event:

  • Broadcast live on EbS.

The sources:
On the assessments of stability and convergence programmes:
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/sg_pact_fiscal_policy/sg_programmes9147_en.htm

Commissioner Almunia's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/almunia/index_en.htm

The contacts:
Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629 amelia.torres@ec.europa.eu
Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925 Marisa.Gonzalez-Iglesias@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday, 20 February (tbc): European Parliament expected to adopt the EIT — the European Institute of Innovation and Technology

The news:

On 20 February (date to be confirmed), the European Parliament is expected to adopt the Commission's proposal for a draft Regulation setting up the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, known as the 'EIT' for short.

The background:

One of the biggest challenges that Europe faces today is how to foster innovation. In an evermore competitive globalising world economy, success is increasingly being determined by the ability of businesses and societies to be 'innovative'. At a European Council meeting in Lahti, Finland, in October 2006, the EU's leaders agreed on a ten-point programme for action at national and European levels to foster innovation. Prominent among these actions was the proposed establishment of the EIT, which will be positioned at the interface between education, R&D and enterprise.

The primary aim of the EIT is to reinforce Europe's capacity to transform education and research results into business opportunities, and it will do so by establishing strategic partnerships among Europe's best business, research and higher education actors and bodies.

These strategic partnerships, called "KICs" (Knowledge and Innovation Communities), will promote excellence in innovation, research and higher education; operate at the frontiers of knowledge in inter- or multidisciplinary domains; and define and disseminate new models for innovation.

The EIT's overall priorities will be decided by a Governing Board, made up of 18 well-known personalities at the forefront of the scientific, academic and entrepreneurial worlds, and supported by a team of approximately 60 people. They will choose the KICs and evaluate and coordinate their work. A decision on the geographical location of the Governing Board will be made by the European Council, possibly before the summer of 2008.

The draft Regulation setting up the EIT now awaits adoption by the European Parliament as one of the last steps in the EU's 'co-decision procedure', following the adoption of a 'common position' by the Council on 21 January 2008.

The sources:
EIT website:
http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/eit/index_en.html

Commissioner Figel's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/figel/index_en.htm

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

Friday 22 February 2008: Joint Employment Report 2008

The news:

The Commission will present the annual Joint Employment Report (JER).

This report will give an update of the employment situation in the EU, trace the principal reforms undertaken and highlight the main challenges for the future. It also includes the latest indicators on the European labour market performance.

The report will be sent to the EPSCO Council (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs) for adoption on 29 February.

The background:

The Commission prepares annually a draft report on developments in the European labour markets. It is then discussed and adopted by the Council thus becoming a joint report.

The 2008 report is the 10th such report. It assesses the implementation of the employment aspects of each country's national reform programme according to the priorities set out under the EU's Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

The JER does cite certain areas where progress has been made as well as areas where it has been limited or insufficient. It looks at gaps and weaknesses and draws some cross-country comparisons. In line with previous years the report focuses on

  • the three employment priorities for action
  • attracting more people to the labour market
  • adaptability of workers and enterprises and
  • investment in human capital.

The event:

A technical briefing will take place in the press room of the Berlaymont at 12.30 on Friday, 22 February. A press release will be issued.

The sources:
Former Joint Reports:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/employment_strategy/employ_en.htm

More information on Employment in the EU:
http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm

Commissioner Špidla's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/spidla/index_en.cfm

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

Monday 25 - Tuesday 26 February 2008: Regions for Economic Change – Sharing Excellence

The news:

The Commission will hold its second annual conference of the "Regions for Economic Change" initiative under the title "Regions for Economic Change – Sharing Excellence".

More than 500 participants from regions all over Europe are expected to discuss how European regional policy and its instruments can help regions to learn from one another and translate network outputs into action through mainstream policy and programmes. Experts will debate strategies, experiences and projects around the process of cooperation and learning, in order to provide partners with practical examples of how they can cooperate and learn from one another as they start to implement the 2007-2013 programmes.

On February 25, Commissioner Danuta Hübner will present the 2008 'RegioStars' awards to projects displaying good European practice and innovation in regional policy. The Conference will also include the launch of the 2009 'RegioStars' awards, and opportunities for networking.

The background:

The conference aims to facilitate the exchange of good practices for pursuing the implementation of the Lisbon strategy at regional level through cohesion instrument. Through 9 workshops, the event will showcase strategies, experiences and projects intended to provide learning and networking opportunities for Structural Funds managing authorities. The main objective of RegioStars 2008 is to identify good innovative practices in regional development, to highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions under the themes of "Regional Economies Based on Knowledge and Technological Innovation" and "Sustainable Economic Development".

The event:

The two-day Conference is organised by the Commission's Regional Policy Directorate-General and other Commission services in cooperation with the Committee of the Regions.

Commissioner Danuta Hübner will present in the evening of the first day's Conference the 2008 'RegioStars' awards.

  • EbS' coverage of the conference and awards

The sources:
IP/07/299 - Regions for Economic Change" first annual conference
IP/07/309 – Launch of the "RegioStars 2008" awards
SPEECH/07/380 - Presentation of 4th Cohesion Report
SPEECH/07/468 - Seminar "Beyond Best Practice

European Commission websites:
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/excellence/home_en.cfm?nmenu=1
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/competitiveness/doc/pdf/foster200703.pdf
http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperation/interregional/ecochange/regiostars_en.cfm?nmenu=4

Commissioner Danuta Hübner's website:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/hubner/speeches/speeches_en.htm

The contacts:
Eva Kaluzynska +32 2 2992615 eva.kaluzynska@ec.europa.eu
Constantina Avraam +32 2 29 59667 constantina.avraam@ec.europa.eu


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