Brussels Friday 26 June 2009
Top News from the European Commission
29 June to 26 July 2009
Background notes from the Spokesperson’s service for journalists
The European Commission reserves the right to make changes
Monday 29 June: No disturbances in electricity supply foreseen this summer in Europe 2
Tuesday 30 June: Measures to fight second-hand tobacco smoke 3
Wednesday 1st July: Joint meeting of the Swedish Council of Ministers and the European Commission in Stockholm 4
Wednesday 1st July: EU Roaming Regulation enters into force and cuts roaming costs for SMS, calls and data downloads up to 60% 6
Wednesday 1st July 2009: Commission to allow sale of 'wonky' fruit and vegetables 7
Thursday 2 July: Improving free movement Directive 8
Thursday 2 July: European Microfinance Facility 9
Wednesday 8 July: Commission Green Paper: how can we make cross-border learning an opportunity for all young people in Europe? 10
Wednesday 8th July: Allowing access to fingerprints stored in EURODAC database by Member States authorities and by Europol 11
Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July: The G8 summit in Italy – Shaping responses to global challenges 12
Thursday 9 and Friday 10 July: Young People speak out on health: EU Youth Health Initiative 13
Monday 13 July: Research in the EU Recovery Plan: meet the Commission and the industry to learn about calls for proposals 14
Tuesday 14 July: Revision of security of gas supply Directive 15
Thursday 16 July: Latest Key Data on Education in 31 European countries 16
Thursday 16 July: Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed 17
Monday 29 June: No disturbances in electricity supply foreseen this summer in Europe
European Commission convenes twice a year the so-called Electricity Cross-Border Committee meetings, where summer or winter electricity outlooks are presented. The purpose is information sharing and awareness rising with regard potential supply issues.
Summer 2009 electricity adequacy report presented by the newly founded European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) shows that no disturbances in electricity supply are expected this summer.
Rising demand for electricity and energy in general requires good coordination between European electricity companies and networks. Only in this way uninterrupted service to citizens and industry and rational use of resources available can be ensured.
With this in mind, Commissioner Piebalgs asked ENTSO-E to present to the Electricity Cross-Border Committee their analysis of the situation as well as the preparatory and coordination measures taken by their members in order to avoid or mitigate the impact of any potential disturbances in electricity supply this summer.
The seasonal summer outlook report is prepared at European level, presenting the summary of the national or regional power balances between forecast generation and peak demand on a weekly basis for the summer period.
Should situation so require, the Commission usually establish an ad-hoc "cellule de vigilance" for the critical period, in order to ensure quick information sharing between neighbouring counties and transmission operators.
ENTSO-E is a new association of electricity network operators and it was founded to strengthen their cooperation in the European electricity market. This action is a proactive step of the network operators to contribute to reliable and efficient pan-European and regional markets, ahead of the European Union Third Legislative Package of the Internal Electricity Market. Summer 2009 electricity adequacy report is the first official document produced by ENTSO-E.
The Commission will convene a meeting of the Electricity Cross-Border Committee which includes representatives of EU Member states – Ministries responsible for energy and energy regulators from 10h to 12h. ENTSO-E will present its assessment at the meeting, explaining various scenarios for electricity supply this summer.
11.00: Technical briefing for the press in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels
European Commission Energy website on Gas and Electricity:
Commissioner Pieblags' website:
Tuesday 30 June: Measures to fight second-hand tobacco smoke
In countries with no comprehensive smoke-free regulations, tobacco smoke is present in the majority of public places, most of which are also somebody's workplace. Children's and adolescents' exposure to tobacco smoke – most of which occurs in the home - is also a serious health concern. Experts estimate that roughly 80 000 people in the EU, including 19 000 non-smokers, died in 2002 because they were exposed to tobacco smoke at home (72 000) and in their workplace (7 300). Environmental tobacco smoke constitutes a significant health and financial burden to European countries. Although smoke-free legislation has become more and more common, levels of protection vary largely within the EU. It is hospitality customers and workers that suffer most: The concentration of tobacco smoke in bars and restaurants is exceptionally high and the smoke-free regulation in those venues still is limited.
Where smoke-free policies are in place they have proven to be effective in reducing the tobacco-related burden while not harming the economy. This is why the Commission proposes a Council Recommendation to help EU Members to implement smoke-free legislation at national level. Already today the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obliges all parties to ensure protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, public transport and, as appropriate, other public places. This Convention was ratified by all but one EU country. The main focus of the proposed Recommendation would therefore be to ensure effective and EU-wide implementation of the WHO Convention.
Thousands of non smokers in Europe suffer from second-hand smoke, which is a significant source of mortality, morbidity and disability in the EU. The smoke contains over 4 000 compounds, including 69 known carcinogens and many toxic agents. Any exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is dangerous. It has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system of adults and leads to heart disease as well as lung cancer. But second hand smoke it is even more harmful to children, causing for instance asthma, pneumonia, and sudden infant death syndrome.
In recent years great progress towards smoke-free environments has been made throughout Europe. Comprehensive smoke-free laws, covering indoor workplaces and public places, have been adopted in over a third of EU countries.
12.30: Commissioner Vassiliou will present in a press conference, the Recommendations for smoke-free environments in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels.
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European Commission's website on Tobacco:
Commissioner Vassiliou's website:
Wednesday 1 st July: Joint meeting of the Swedish Council of Ministers and the European Commission in Stockholm
The full Commission is to travel to Stockholm for a meeting with the Swedish Government to prepare the ground for Sweden’s occupancy of the Council Presidency starting on 1 July 2009. The visit will mark the start of the Presidency thus being its first major event.
The Commission has already begun working closely with the Swedish Government. On 9 June, for instance, President Barroso met the Swedish Prime Minister, Mr Frederik Reinfeldt, in the Berlaymont.
On the 23 June, Prime minister Reinfeldt announced the Swedish EU Presidency programme. The two key priorities of the Presidency concern economy and employment, and climate change. The objective for dealing with the economic crisis and the rising unemployment in Europe will be to restore confidence in financial markets and to fight against the negative impact on employment and growth. In this sense the renewed Lisbon strategy should provide good medium and long term solutions.
The second key priority area will be climate change, where the Presidency's most important objective will be to reach an international climate agreement at the Copenhagen meeting in December. During this meeting a decision will be taken on new commitments on emission reductions for the period after 2012.
A Stockholm programme that safeguards security and the right of individuals and the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea are among the Swedish Government's other priorities.
On 1 st July 2009 Sweden will succeed the Czech Republic at the head of the European Union. In doing so, this will be the second time for Sweden to occupy the EU Council Presidency (the first Swedish presidency took place in 2001). Spain will take over on 1 st January 2010, followed by Belgium and Hungary in 2011.
The College of Commissioners presided over by José Manuel Barroso is to travel to Stockholm where it will meet the Swedish Government with a view to preparing the ground for the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers during the second half of 2009. The Commissioners and the ministers will have the opportunity to meet both in small groups and in plenary.
A reception at Royal Palace will be given during the afternoon, followed in the evening by the opening ceremony for the Swedish Presidency at the open-air museum at Skansen.
EbS coverage of the visit
Swedish Presidency website:
Media accreditation for Council meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg, or informal ministerial meetings in Sweden:
European Commission Growth and jobs website:
Copenhagen climate change conference:
President Barroso’s website:
Wednesday 1 st July: EU Roaming Regulation enters into force and cuts roaming costs for SMS, calls and data downloads up to 60%
1 July 2009 is a date that all mobile phone users across Europe should mark in their calendars because then the new EU Roaming Regulation proposed by the European Commission in September 2008 and adopted in the record time of 10 months becomes effective across all 27 EU Member States. The new roaming rules will substantially cut the cost of texting and surfing the internet with your mobile phone while abroad and further reduce roaming caps for calls made and received while abroad in the EU – all of this just in time for the summer holidays.
The new roaming rules which will be directly applicable within the EU as of 1 July 2009:
Introduce a 'Euro-SMS tariff' limiting the price that consumers can be charged for sending a text message while abroad to € 0.11 excluding VAT (compared to an average of around € 0.29 today) which will lead to consumer savings of around 60%
reduce the cost of surfing the web or downloading movies with a mobile phone while abroad by introducing a wholesale cap of € 1 per MB downloaded
will protect consumers from 'bill shocks' by introducing a cut-off mechanism once your bill reaches € 50 (unless the consumer opts for a different limit).
further reduce prices for mobile roaming calls now capped at € 0.46 for calls made abroad and € 0.22 for calls received abroad (per minute and excluding VAT).
introduce the principle of per-second billing after the first 30 seconds.
The first EU Roaming Regulation entered into force on 1 July 2007 introducing caps for calls made and received while travelling in the EU which has led to consumer savings of over 40% when compared to roaming prices earlier in the same year. In 2008, following an extensive review of the situation in the European market for roaming services, the European Commission concluded that competition in the market was not yet effective and therefore proposed extending the Roaming Regulation to include new rules for text messages and data roaming services. After the European Parliament voted on 22 April by an overwhelming majority in favour of the new EU roaming rules and after the Council of the EU Telecoms Ministers also approved these new rules, following publication in the EU's Official Journal, they can become law in all 27 EU Member States.
Europe is already the mobile continent: mobile phone usage as a percentage of population went up from 84.6% in 2004 to 119% in 2008 and as a result of continuously falling roaming prices, Europe's 500 million consumers are expected to make even greater use of their mobile phones.
The European Commission's Roaming website:
Wednesday 1 st July 2009: Commission to allow sale of 'wonky' fruit and vegetables
From 1 st July, specific marketing standards will be removed for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, allowing the sale of curvy cucumbers, curious carrots and bendy beans.
Last December, the Commission repealed specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, meaning the end of EU rules governing the size and shape of these products – which include cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, melons, mushrooms and garlic.
For 10 types of fruit and vegetables - apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuce, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes and tomatoes – marketing standards will remain.
But even for these 10, Member States could for the first time allow shops to sell products which do not respect the standards, as long as they are clearly labelled.
In other words, the new rules will allow national authorities to permit the sale of all fruit and vegetables, regardless of their shape and size.
This forms part of the Commission's ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify EU rules and cut red tape.
It will cut waste and allow consumers a wider choice of products.
Entry into force of new Regulation on 1 st July
European Commission's website:
Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel's blog:
Thursday 2 July: Improving free movement Directive
With the aim of giving guidance on how some problematic issues may be resolved for the benefit of the Member States and EU citizens, the Commission is adopting guidelines to tackle the difficulties and burdens that hinder the transposition or application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their families to move and reside freely within the EU.
The guidelines clarify the rights of family members and EU citizens who are not economically active and offer assistance to Member States on the measures they can take to tackle criminality, abuse and marriages of convenience.
The problems revealing persistent violation of the core rights of EU citizens are mostly related to:
• The right of entry and residence of family members from non-EU countries,
• The requirement for EU citizens to submit with the applications for residence additional documents not foreseen in the Directive.
In this context, the Commission document should guide EU countries to understand and effectively guarantee these rights. The guidelines clarify who and under what conditions may enter the EU to join their EU family member. The guidelines will also have a positive implication on issuing of entry visas and residence documents to EU citizens and their families to better safeguard EU citizens' rights.
The adoption will also solve problems rising from restrictions of right to move and reside freely on grounds of public order (criminality), abuse and fraud, such as marriages of convenience. This should help EU countries to distinguish between those who have the genuine rights and those who represent a genuine danger to the society of the host EU country or who are trying to evade application of national immigration rules by artificially invoking their EU rights.
All Member States have adopted national laws to protect the right of EU citizens and their families to move and reside freely within the EU. In December 2008, the Commission adopted a Report on the application of the Directive. The Report concluded that the overall transposition of the Directive was rather disappointing. Identifying serious flaws in national rules adopted to give effect to fundamental EU freedom. EU countries and the European Parliament have called on the Commission to help them understand the EU law and apply it better. The Commission guidelines are therefore conceived to deliver information and assistance to both EU countries and EU citizens by suggesting potential solutions to those inconveniences highlighted in the Report. Although national laws in some areas treat EU citizens and their families better than EU law requires, not one single Member State has transposed the Directive effectively, correctly and completely.
Technical briefing by Vice President Jacques Barrot at the EC Berlaymont building (Press Room) time tbc.
Available on EbS
European Commission website:
VP Commissioner Barrot's website:
Thursday 2 July: European Microfinance Facility
As announced in its communication of 3 June on 'A Shared Commitment for Employment', the Commission will propose a new EU microfinance facility for employment (Progress Microfinance Facility) to open the way to entrepreneurship for people who wish to start up their own business having become unemployed.
This new facility will also extend the range of targeted financial support to entrepreneurs in the current context of a reduced credit supply. Individual entrepreneurs and founders of micro-enterprises will also be assisted by way of mentoring, training, coaching and capacity building. €100 million will be reallocated from the existing budget to the new facility and it is expected that it could leverage more than €500 million in a joint initiative with international financial institutions, in particular, the European Investment Bank Group.
Micro-credit in the EU means loans under €25,000. It is tailored for micro-enterprises, employing less than 10 people (91% of all European enterprises), and unemployed or inactive people who want to go into self-employment but do not have access to traditional banking services.
After some years of relatively high growth and job creation (8 million new jobs alone in 2006-2008), Europe is facing an important economic crisis and is expected to lose some 3.5 million jobs this year, and unemployment could reach 10% in 2010. The current economic crisis is clearly exceptional, and exceptional measures are called for.
As part of the EU's response to the crisis, the Spring European Council and the Employment Summit held in Prague in May identified and defined three key priorities: maintaining employment, creating jobs and promoting mobility. Building on this common effort, the Commission's communication on 'A Shared Commitment for Employment' aimed to step up cooperation between the EU and the Member States as well between European social partners on these three priorities. The proposal on 2 July is the concrete proposal setting out the details of the microfinance facility announced on 3 June.
Adoption by the Commission. An on-the-record technical briefing will be held in the press room (time to be confirmed).
Available on EbS
More information on EU response to the social dimension of the crisis:
More information on employment:
Commissioner Špidla's website:
Wednesday 8 July: Commission Green Paper: how can we make cross-border learning an opportunity for all young people in Europe?
With this Green Paper the European Commission will launch a public consultation on how all young people in Europe can be given the opportunity of going abroad for studying and learning.
There has been a lot of reflection in political and expert circles on the benefits of learning mobility, i.e. going abroad for the purpose of acquiring new skills, and its potential to contribute to European strategies for learning and skills. A clear consensus has emerged in favour of more mobility opportunities to be offered more broadly to young people. The Council in November 2008 asked the Commission to come up with a policy proposal to reach the ambitious goal of offering mobility opportunities to all young people.
The purpose of this Green Paper is therefore to open up the debate to stakeholders and the wider public, seeking their views on how best to boost substantially the opportunities for young people to have a mobility experience. In a public consultation the Commission will invite anyone interested to give their views on how both existing and new mechanisms and instruments can be better mobilised to promote the mobility of young people and how the different levels of public authorities - the EU, national, regional and local - together with other stakeholders - businesses, civil society organisations and individuals - can be mobilised.
The scope of the Green Paper is broad; it aims to address the situation of all young people in all different learning contexts: at school, at bachelor, master and PhD levels within university studies, as well as in internships, apprenticeships, youth exchanges, volunteer work or professional training, both within and outside the European Union.
Press conference with Commissioner Figel' 12:15, in the Berlaymont Press room, Brussels.
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Conclusions of the Education, Youth and Culture Council on youth mobility, 21 November 2008:
Wednesday 8 th July: Allowing access to fingerprints stored in EURODAC database by Member States authorities and by Europol
To tackle the terrorism threat and the rise in serious crimes, the Commission takes further steps to enhance EU internal security by the adoption of two legislative measures providing access to the EURODAC database for law enforcement purposes in the Member States.
The first measure consists in an amendment to the current EURODAC Regulation, setting the fight against crime as a priority on the EURODAC operative agenda. This is necessary to provide national law authorities with data protection obligations by applying the so called "bridging clause". The second measure is a Draft Decision based on title VI TEU regulating the modalities to access to EURODAC for law enforcement purposes. Such measures are conceived to foster cooperation between law enforcement authorities of Member States in exchanging relevant information.
EURODAC database also contains fingerprints of those third country nationals who crossed the border of one of the Member States irregularly.
In detail, the Commission measures propose to:
Authorise the comparison of fingerprints which are contained in EURODAC with fingerprints in the possession of national law enforcement authorities or Europol for the fight against terrorist offences and serious crime, including trafficking in human beings and in drugs;
Regulate the procedure in which law enforcement authorities request comparisons with the EURODAC database and the conditions under which such request can be forwarded;
Provide a series of guarantees aimed at ensuring the protection of the personal data of the persons concerned and in safeguarding the right to asylum;
Change the current EURODAC system to ensure that it can be searched on the basis of a latent, i.e. a trace left at a crime scene.
In the process of information exchange, the following problems have been identified:
Even though the law enforcement authorities of many Member States have access to their national databases which contain the data of asylum seekers, it is basically and concretely impossible for them to exchange such information;
Despite the fact that several instruments exist at a EU level to facilitate the exchange of information between Member States, these instruments in most cases cannot be effectively used for comparing fingerprints of asylum seekers;
So far, the comparison of fingerprints of asylum seekers among Member States adopted burdensome, costly and inefficient instruments. The new measures will allow a cost-burden sharing in this sense and more efficient comparing devices.
Technical briefing TBC
Available on EbS
European Commission website:
VP Commissioner Barrot's website:
Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July: The G8 summit in Italy – Shaping responses to global challenges
For the fifth time, President Barroso will represent the Commission as full member of the G8 summit, which this year takes place under Italian Presidency in L'Aquila (Italy).
Alongside with the leaders of Sweden as holder of the EU Council presidency, the four European Union G8 members (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 the economic and financial crisis, trade, climate change, development/Africa and food security.
The provisional programme of the summit comprises at this stage a meeting of the G8 leaders on the first day followed by a day-long meeting of the G8 + G5 leaders (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa) and Egypt as well as a meeting of the G8 with African leaders (Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Libya as holder of the presidency of the African Union). During the summit G8 leaders will also meet their counterparts from Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Republic of Korea and South Africa in the context of the Major Economies Forum.
In a spirit of linking the G8 with the G20 process as well as the ongoing UN climate change negotiations also the leaders of Spain, Denmark, Netherlands and Turkey will participate in parts of the programme.
The final elements of the programme and the participating countries and international organisations will be communicated by the Italian G8 presidency shortly.
The summit takes place at a time where multiple global challenges require more than ever the commitment and determination of G8 leaders and their partners to promote coordinated international action. A series of events, like the G20 process, initiated last year by the EU, and the ongoing UN climate change negotiations have been helping to shape this response. The G8 summit therefore is a crucial occasion to provide political impetus in finding and implementing solutions and to ensure a link with the other ongoing processes.
Participation of Commission President Barroso in the G8 summit in L'Aquila (Italy).
Site of the G8 summit:
Accreditation of journalists: deadline 26 June !
Site of President Barroso:
(also on the spot in L'Aquila during the summit)
Thursday 9 and Friday 10 July: Young People speak out on health: EU Youth Health Initiative
Involving young people more actively in looking after their health is the aim of an initiative launched by the European Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou. The initiative will kick off with a conference on Youth Health.
Young people together with youth and health organisations as well as national partners will be invited to debate key health issues, such as the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, or physical activity and sexual health.
Cross cutting issues will also be up for discussion, for example youth involvement, labour market, education, media and information. The conference is accompanied by a website on the EU health portal which includes a blog and an arts competition.
Generally, the health of young people in the EU is better than it has ever been. Still, far too many young people adopt lifestyles and forms of behaviour which eventually will reduce their ability to lead healthy and productive lives.
The Youth Health initiative therefore aims to involve young people more closely in the EU work on public health. Its intention is to strengthen youth partnership on the decision making process and to involve other sectors across EU policy areas and at national level on the implementation of prevention programs targeted at young people.
Starting at 13.00, the conference will be held in the Charlemagne building in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and H.R.H. Princess Laurentien of The Netherlands will open the Conference.
European Commission's website on youth health:
Commissioner Vassiliou's website:
Monday 13 July: Research in the EU Recovery Plan: meet the Commission and the industry to learn about calls for proposals
As part of the European Economic Recovery Package the European Commission has launched three ambitious Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the research area, to develop new technologies for the vitally important manufacturing, construction and automotive industries.
On the 30th July the European Commission will launch the first set of cross-thematic calls for proposals for these Public-Private Partnerships. The aim is to have the first projects up and running by the spring of 2010. To secure maximum involvement from industry and the research community, the Commission is organising a Public-Private Partnership Info Day on cross-thematic calls for proposals on the 13 July. 750 stakeholders will participate.
Research and innovation are key components of the European Recovery package. On 30 March 2009 Commissioner Janez Potočnik's and high level representatives from the manufacturing, construction and automotive industry sectors, signed a Joint Statement stressing the necessity to "combine short term economic and fiscal measures in the Recovery Plan, with longer term "smart investments" in R&D to lay down a strong base for the future competitiveness of the European industry".
The 3 PPPs 'Factories of the Future', 'Energy-efficient Buildings' and 'Green Cars' represent a powerful means of boosting research efforts in three key industrial sectors through strong cooperation and a coordinated approach. This will develop sustainable technologies that will help Europe move towards a low carbon and knowledge based economy. A total of EUR 3.2 billion will be allocated for research through the three Public-Private Partnerships, with half of the funds coming from industry and half from the European Commission.
Through the launch of the Public-Private Partnership calls for proposals, the Commission and the industry have proven their ability to act rapidly together to respond to the research-related demands of the European Economic Recovery Plan.
The Public-Private Partnerships Info Day takes place in the Charlemagne building, rue de la Loi 170:
• 10:00: Commissioners Potočnik and Reding will address the opening session.
• 10:40: Senior industry representatives, including Massimo Mattucci, COMAU, for the Factories of the Future PPP (FoF), Juan Manuel Mieres, Acciona, for the Energy-efficient Buildings PPP (EeB), and Günter Lugert, Siemens, for the Green Cars PPP (GC), will speak about the important role of industry in shaping and implementing PPP.
• 13:00: The Commission presents the topics of the calls for proposals, the industry presents its multi-annual roadmap, and potential project leaders present their ideas
Journalists with press cards can attend the Info Day.
The web site of DG RTD:
Information about the role of the Public Private Partnerships:
Commissioner Poto čnik's website:
Tuesday 14 July: Revision of security of gas supply Directive
As requested by the European Council and the European Parliament, the Commission will come up with a reinforced Security of Gas Supply instrument that will better equip the European Union to face disruptions of gas supplies and to develop solidarity mechanisms among Member States.
During the gas crisis of January 2009, a number of European citizens suffered from shortages of supply. This was the case particularly for Member States that were less interconnected with the rest of the Internal Energy Market.
During the crisis, the rules of the security of gas supply directive (like calling for the Gas Coordination Group) were applied with positive results in a number of Member States, but both Parliament and Council considered that the directive had to be reinforced to increase the security of gas supply.
The recast of this directive had already been forecast in the Second Strategic Energy Review, which was accompanied with a communication on Security of Gas Supply.
Press conference by Commissioner Piebalgs in the Press Room of the Parliament in Strasbourg, 16.00.
Available on EbS
Security of supply package
Memo on the Communication on Security of Gas Supply
Commissioner Piebalg's website:
Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.498 96 62 93 email@example.com
Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 16 July: Latest Key Data on Education in 31 European countries
The European Commission will present the 2009 edition of its regular publication 'Key Data on Education in Europe'. Produced by the Eurydice network, this seventh edition gives a comprehensive picture of the latest trends regarding the organisation and functioning of the education systems of 31 European countries (EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey).
Based on 129 indicators, 'Key Data on Education in Europe' identifies positive trends such as increasing enrolment of 4 year olds in pre-school education, a significant rise in the numbers of students in higher education and a general trend towards longer periods of compulsory schooling. However, serious challenges remain: demographic change means fewer children of school age in Europe yet the need for a highly skilled workforce is increasing. Many countries will experience teacher retirement on a very large scale in the near future.
The Eurydice Network provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. It consists of 35 national units based in all 31 countries participating in the EU's Lifelong Learning programme (EU Member States, EEA countries and Turkey) and is coordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which drafts its publications and databases.
'Key Data on Education in Europe' combines statistical data and qualitative information on the organisation and functioning of the education systems of 31 European countries. It includes European level comparative data on matters such as parents' freedom to choose schools, teachers' salaries and teaching hours, spending per pupil, levels of university tuition fees and so on.
Technical briefing on the record by Commissioner Figel' in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels at 11:00 (time tbc)
European Commission website:
Commissioner Figel's website:
Thursday 16 July: Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed
It was in 1979 that the Commission and European countries agreed to voluntarily exchange alerts on food and feed to protect the consumer. For 30 years now the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has served as one of the most important tools to ensure that the products we eat are safe.
To mark the anniversary of the system there will be a conference on the latest developments of the RASFF in Brussels. The system assembles all EU countries but Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and the European Food Safety Authority belong to the network as well. EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will present the RASFF annual report 2008 in a press conference after the midday briefing.
The RASFF was put in place to provide food and feed control authorities with an effective tool to exchange information about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed. This exchange of information helps Member States to act more rapidly and in a coordinated manner in response to a health threat caused by food or feed.
Its effectiveness is ensured by keeping its structure simple: it consists essentially of clearly identified contact points in the Commission and at national level in member countries, exchanging information in a structured way by means of templates. In 2007 the number of notifications to the RASFF reached an all-time high with 7354.
Conference: 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), Autoworld, Brussels, from 9.00 to 19.00
Press Conference with Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou at 12.30 in the Berlaymont, Press Room
Available on EbS + VNR
European Commission's website on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed:
RASFF conference website/registration:
RASFF Annual Report 2007: