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Brussels Friday 15 May 2009

Top News from the European Commission
18 May to 21 June 2009

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



Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 May:
EU Maritime Day celebrations in Rome   2

Wednesday 20 May:
EU-China Summit 3

Friday 22 May:
EU-Russia Summit 4

Tuesday 26 May:
Launch of the PRESSEUROP.EU portal 5

Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 May:
Sustainable development – how can European science contribute?   6

Thursday 28 May:
Meeting consumer expectations on Quality of Agricultural Products   7

Friday 28 May:
European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture   8

Thursday 28 May:
Combating the number one killer in the EU - World No tobacco Day   9

Wednesday 3 June:
Follow-up to Employment Summit: Communication on a shared commitment for employment 10

Thursday 11 June:
Annual report on quality of bathing water in European waters   11


The news:

European Maritime Day is celebrated on 20 May each year. This year, the European Commission, in cooperation with the Italian government, will host a European Maritime Day Stakeholder Conference in Rome, Italy, from 19 to 20 May 2009.

Participants include Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister, Alexander Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou , José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Franco Frattini, Italian minister for foreign affairs, Altero Matteoli, Italian Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, Antonio Tajani, Günther Verheugen, Vice-Presidents of the European Commission, and Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries .

The conference will focus on sea-related cross-policy issues (i.e. clusters, tourism and climate change) and recent progress in the implementation of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, with regard to maritime governance, development of coastal regions, sustainable use of ocean resources and activities at sea. It will bring together many different stakeholders from different parts of the maritime-related sectors (transport, energy, fisheries, regional policy, environment …)

Different side-events will also take place, like exhibitions and work shops organised by different stakeholders, including NGOs.

The Commission strongly encourages member states and organisations to organise events in their country to celebrate Maritime Day. A description of events at national, regional and local level is available on the website indicated below.

The background:

European Maritime Day was set up as one of the key elements of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, adopted in 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the crucial role played by the Oceans and Seas and it contributes to a better visibility of the maritime sectors and more recognition of the importance they play in everyday life.

The event:

European Maritime Day Stakeholder Conference in Rome, Italy from 19 to 20 May 2009.

Available on EbS + photo coverage

The sources:

IP/08/750 – First edition of the Maritime Day


Events in Member states :


EU Maritime Day:


Maritime Affairs :


Commissioner Joe Borg's website:

The contacts:

Nathalie Charbonneau    +32 2 296 3763    

Lone Mikkelsen             +32 2 296 0567    

The news:

The 11 th EU-China Summit will take place in Prague. The Commission will be represented by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Commissioner for Trade Catherine Ashton.

This Summit takes place after the successful visit of Premier Wen to the EC Headquarters in Brussels on 30 January, the visit of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to Beijing on 29-30 March as well as the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue on 7-8 May 2009.

The background:

As one of the largest and fastest growing emerging economies and with the EU being its first export destination, China is a an important international player and a key partner for the EU in addressing global challenges such as the current financial crisis, the Doha Round and climate change. Both these issues are expected to be high on the agenda of the Leaders’ meeting. Further topics to be discussed are bilateral trade and international issues of mutual concern.

Moreover, it is also expected that the summit will endorse progress in our bilateral cooperation in different sectors.

Last but not least, the Summit takes place shortly after the 27 th round of the EU-China dialogue on human rights (Prague, 14 May 2009). Human rights issues are indeed part of the regular political dialogue between the EU and China, which is characterised by its comprehensiveness.

The event:

11 th EU-China Summit in Prague

EbS coverage of the EU-China Summit in Prague + photo coverage

The sources:

European Commission's website:


EU-China Summit 2008


Commissionner Benita Ferrero-Waldner's website:

The contacts:

Christiane Hohmann       +32 2 29 91196    

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio    +32 2 295 2658    

Anja Fiedler                   +32 2 29 80385    

The news:

The Summit provides an opportunity to discuss, at the highest level, EU-Russian cooperation against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis. The energy partnership, including European energy security, will also be a key topic.

The Summit is also an occasion to review ongoing co-operation under the EU-Russia common spaces. Furthermore, the Summit will take stock of the progress made in the discussions on the New Agreement after the four rounds of negotiations that have been held since the talks were launched last June.

International issues are also on the agenda, and are likely to include discussions on protracted conflicts in the common neighbourhood, Euro-Atlantic security and other foreign policy issues such as the Middle East.

The background:

The EU is by far the largest export market for Russia, while Russia is the EU’s third biggest trade partner, with Russian supplies of oil and gas making up a large percentage of Russia’s exports to Europe.

The EU and Russia concluded a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement in 1994. The June 2008 EU-Russia Summit saw the launch of negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement. The negotiations were put on hold following the Russia/Georgia conflict, and were resumed following a review by the EU of its relations with Russia.

The event:

EU-Russia Summit in Khabarovsk, Russia on 21-22 May 2009. Participants from the side of the Commission will be the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the Commissioner for Trade, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

19 May, 11:30 at Berlaymont press room – technical briefing off the record

· Available on EbS + Photo

The sources:

European Commission:


President and Commissioners' websites:

The contacts:

Christiane Hohmann       +32 2 29 91196    

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio    +32 2 295 2658    

Anja Fiedler                   +32 2 29 80385   

Tuesday 26 May: Launch of the PRESSEUROP.EU portal

The news:

The Commission and Courrier International are launching PRESSEUROP.EU – the first multilingual website for press articles on European affairs. PRESSEUROP.EU offers a selection of European and international press articles in 10 languages (Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish).

The PRESSEUROP.EU portal aims to become a major provider of general and political information – gathered independently from a wide range of sources – concerning European current affairs. Under the terms of its contract it enjoys complete editorial freedom.

Alongside EuRaNet (European Radio Network, launched in April 2008) and EU TV Net (scheduled for 2010), PRESSEUROP is an expression of the European Institutions' wish to facilitate, encourage and support the establishment of a European public forum for communication, discussion and debate.

The background:

As part of its policy to 'communicate Europe in Partnership' and to support the emergence of a European public forum, the Commission has launched this idea and put it into effect by organising a public-procurement procedure. The PRESSEUROP consortium coordinated by Courrier International (and including Internazionale in Italy, Forum Polityka in Poland and Courrier Internacional in Portugal, with the support of Cafebabel) has proposed an innovative, dynamic, interactive portal which is constantly updated.

PRESSEUROP.EU makes publicly available:

-          a selection of international and European press articles (both written and on-line),

-          press reviews, news in brief and a weekly news round-up,

-          illustrations (computer graphics, photographs, videos, cartoons, etc.),

-          a daily newsletter on the day's current events and the latest content,

-          archived articles.


This service will gradually be made available in the 23 EU official languages. PressEurop's ultimate aim is to help develop the European public domain and to enable Internet users to form their own opinion on the basis of articles and in-depth studies presenting a variety of carefully considered views.

The event:

12:15: Press conference held by Commissioner/Vice-President Margot Wallström in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

Live presentation of the PressEurop website.

Screening of a demonstration film.

Distribution of the first press file on the June 2009 European elections.

Press conference available on EbS + photo coverage

The sources:

The new PressEurop portal:


Commissioner Wallström's website:

The contacts:

Joseph Hennon              +32 2 295 35 93   

Irena Novakova   +32 2 299 96 08

Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 May: Sustainable development – how can European science contribute?

The news:

The European Commission is organising a three day conference: "Sustainable Development: a challenge for European research", in collaboration with the Czech EU Presidency.

At this conference plenary sessions and work shops will be organised to exchange views on how European research can contribute to a global sustainable development. The conference gathers more than 600 scientists, representatives from NGOs and industry and R&D policy makers so that they can confront their views and explore what research and development can and cannot do for sustainability. It will give key input for the R&D policy-making at EU level.

The background:

There is rising concern about the relationship between science and society. Although science is a highly valued notion and one that is intimately linked to the idea of progress, it also gives rise to some fears and reservations – that of possible misuse by mankind, with regard to ethical or sustainability criteria.

If the level of public funding for research is to be maintained and increased, the research community must show that research brings value to the citizens, on substantial and tangible issues beyond competitiveness and jobs. In today's interdependent world international scientific cooperation opens opportunities for win-win situations, as our societies are making efforts to adjust to changing conditions.

The event:

26 May, 10:00: Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research, will give the opening address at the conference "Sustainable Development: a challenge for European research", in the Charlemagne building in Brussels.

11:30: Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research, will hold a press conference, in the Charlemagne building in Brussels.

Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website about the conference:


Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Catherine Ray                +32 2 296 99 21

Sophie Andersson          +32 2 295 02 08

Thursday 28 May: Meeting consumer expectations on Quality of Agricultural Products

The news:

The Commission will present a Communication on agricultural product quality policy. It will build on last year's Green Paper and the consultation which followed, which attracted 560 contributions.

An improved quality policy aims to help farmers get the most out of their products, improve communication between farmers, buyers and consumers about the qualities of agricultural products, increase the coherence of labelling systems and other quality policy instruments, and reduce the complexity of the current set-up.

The document will take stock of the contributions received and set out a strategy for the further development of quality policy.

This will allow a further debate before legislative proposals are prepared during 2010.

The background:

Consumers, retailers and farmers rely increasingly on logos and certification schemes to help them identify and distinguish food produce. A wide range of quality certification schemes currently operate in Europe and their number continues to increase. The EU also has a successful scheme for geographical indications and traditional specialities.

Over the last decade, European agriculture has made an important shift, emphasising quality and specialisation. Globalisation will only increase this tendency. Farmers and producers know and care about production and processing techniques, ingredients, and origin of raw materials. In the EU, they also have to follow high animal welfare and environmental standards that cannot be imposed in respect of imported foods. Certification schemes provide a means by which producers can inform their ultimate customers about the quality of their products.

Quality is about meeting consumer expectations. The quality debate concerns information – on product characteristics, on farming methods, and on origin – that a farmer wants to communicate and a consumer wants to know. Quality is an issue for every farmer and every buyer, whether dealing with commodities produced to ‘baseline’ standards or high-end quality products in which Europe excels.

The event:

Press conference in the Berlaymont press room at 12:30 with Commissioner Boel.

Covered by EbS + Infoclip

The sources:

IP/07/142: Food Quality Schemes under the Microscope


Fact Sheet: European Policy for Quality Agricultural Products


European Commission's website:


Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel's blog:

The contacts:

Michael Mann                +32 2 299 97 80   

Johan Reyniers              +32 2 295 67 28   

The news:

The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe will give the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award 2009, to the architects behind the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo, Norway:  Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Tarald Lundevall, Craig Dykers, of Snøhetta.

They will also give a  Special Mention for Emerging Architect, to Lea Pelivan and Toma Plejic, of STUDIO UP, for the Gymnasium 46° 09' N / 16° 50' E building in Koprivnica, Croatia.

The background:

The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award is granted every two years by the European Union and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe.

Candidates for the award are put forward by a broad group of independent experts from all over Europe, as well as from the architects' associations that form part of the European Council of Architects and other European national architects' associations. The award consists of a cash prize of 60,000€ and a sculpture evoking Mies van der Rohe's German Pavilion. The Special Mention is endowed with 20,000€ and a sculpture evoking the pavilion.

By supporting the prize, the European Commission underlines the role of architecture as a driving force for creativity and innovation that opens up culture to audiences beyond national borders. With this prize it wants to draw attention to the contribution by European professionals to the development of new ideas and technologies that impact Europeans' everyday life.

The event:

May 28, 13:00: Awards Ceremony at Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona, Spain

The sources:

Information about the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture:


Information about the Mies van der Rohe Foundation:


The European Commission Culture web site:


Commissioner Figel's web site:

The contacts:

John MacDonald                        +

Sophie Andersson          +

The news:

About a third of all Europeans are smokers. Although this number is steadily decreasing, the European Commission acts on many fronts to prevent and control tobacco use in Europe and to support those who want to stop smoking. Health warnings are a very effective tool to discourage people from smoking. This is why they are the theme of this year's "World No Tobacco Day", and Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will stress their importance in a video message displayed in the press room.

The Commission will also use the day to launch the second phase of the Commission campaign "HELP – for a life without tobacco", which will see the direct participation of those who belong to the most vulnerable group - young people. Already since 2002 the Commission has been organising anti-tobacco campaigns. The first phase of the Help-campaign has reached its end in 2008 after four years of activity. The campaign was one of the largest public health awareness-raising initiatives ever organised in the world.

The background:

Smoking continues to be the number one killer in the European Union. Over 650.000 Europeans die every year as a result of tobacco use. Thousands of non smokers in Europe suffer from second-hand smoke, they get ill or even die prematurely.

The Commission is especially focussing on preventing young people from starting to smoke.

The event:

28/05: Video message of Health Commisioner Androulla Vassiliou in the press room. Presentation of video clips which are part of the HELP-campaign.

29/05: The Commissioner will participate in a non-smoking event in Cyprus

31/05: The "20 km Brussels"-run takes place under the patronage of Commissioner Vassilliou.

Video Message of Commissioner Vassiliou and Clips will be presented, and clips made available.

The Press conference will be available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission's website on Tobacco:


Commissionner Vassiliou's website:


I-053990  VNR: For a smoke-free Europe

I-053269  Smoking in Public Places

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki           +32 2 29 86378    

Antonie Kerwien             +32 2 29 72686    

Wednesday 3 June: Follow-up to Employment Summit: Communication on a shared commitment for employment

The news:

The Commission will adopt a Communication on 3 rd June, which follows from the Employment Summit of 7 th May and its preparatory seminars. These stakeholder events were organised with the aim to develop joint strategies and coordinated actions to better face the impact of the financial and economic crisis on EU labour markets.

The Communication will be an input for the European Council in June and aims to propose a shared commitment for employment around three priorities: maintaining employment and promoting mobility; upgrading skills and matching labour market needs; increasing access to employment. It will also propose some principles and further actions that the EU, its Member States and the social partners should implement to speed up recovery and limit the impact of the crisis on people and their jobs.

The background:

After a few years of relatively high growth and job creation (8 million new jobs alone in 2006-2008), the global financial crisis and its repercussions on the real economy are hitting labour markets hard and are increasingly affecting the prospects and livelihoods of European citizens.

Europe is expected to lose some 3.5 million jobs this year, and unemployment could reach 10% next year. Strong measures are called for to tackle rising unemployment, by keeping people in jobs and helping create new jobs. Although many of the levers are at national level, there is an important and complementary role for the EU to play setting out the broader framework including the implementation of the European Economic Recovery Plan, allowing for an exchange of ideas and pooling best practice as well as making full use of resources available to the EU. This includes making full use of available funds, including the European Social Funds and European Globalisation Fund which have recently both been revised to make them easier to use and more effective in times of crisis, and looking into new options for funding.

The sources:

More information on EU response to the social dimension of the crisis, including the Employment Summit:


More information on employment:


Commissioner Špidla's website:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes             +32 2 296 44 50   

Carmel Dunne                +32 2 299 88 94   

The news:

The European Commission will publish a report on the quality of bathing areas in Europe to help the millions of Europeans who head for the beach every summer make an informed choice. The report covers coastal and freshwater bathing areas where bathing is explicitly authorised or where bathing is traditionally practised by a large number of bathers.

The background:

Maintaining high quality bathing water is vital for ensuring the well-being and health of millions of people who enjoy swimming in seas, rivers or lakes throughout Europe during the summer months.

During the bathing season Member States are obliged to monitor and report on the quality of bathing waters against minimum standards for a number of physical, chemical and microbiological parameters. This does not cover water intended for therapeutic purposes or swimming pools.

The event:

Press conference with Commissioner Stavros DIMAS and European Environment Executive Director Jacqueline MCGlade. Details to be confirmed.

*         Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission website


European Environment Agency


Commissioner Dimas's website:


I-057336: Quality of bathing water: report 2008 - Seaside and bathers in Varna, Bulgaria - View of a lake in Gura Portitei, Romania - Seaside and bathers in Gura Portitei, Romania

I-057579: 2008 Annual report on the quality of bathing water in Europe

The contacts:

Barbara Helfferich           +32 2 298 2010    

Lena De Visscher          +32 2 296 3694    

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