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AGENDA/09/25

Brussels Friday 10 July 2009

Top News from the European Commission
13 July to Sunday 9 August 2009

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

Monday 13 July:
Research in the EU Recovery Plan: meet the Commission and the industry to learn about calls for proposals

Wednesday 15 July:
Adoption of Recommendations on Visa Free Travel for Western Balkans

Thursday 16 July:
Revision of security of gas supply Directive

Thursday 16 July:
Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

Thursday 16 July:
Ecodesign for TVs, Fridges, Electric Motors and Circulators will save 190Twh annually

Thursday 16 July:
Latest Key Data on Education in 31 European countries

Friday 17 July:
New Eurobarometer survey on employment and the crisis

Friday 17 July:
Signature of the Social Partners' agreement on prevention from sharp injuries (including needle stick injuries)

Wednesday 22 July:
Dairy market situation

Wednesday 22 July (date TBC):
Commission calls on EU-Members to step up action against Alzheimer's disease

Monday 13 July : Research in the EU Recovery Plan: Meet the Commission and the industry to learn about calls for proposals

The news:

As part of the European Economic Recovery Package the 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.

The background:

Research and innovation are key components of the European Recovery package. On 30 March 2009 Commissioner Janez Poto čnik'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 events:

The Public-Private Partnerships Info Day takes place in the Charlemagne building, rue de la Loi 170:

• 10:00: Commissioners Poto čnik 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 sources:

The European Commission Research website: http://ec.europa.eu/research/

IP/09/520 : Commission and Industry agree on swift implementation of public private partnerships in Research and Innovation

Information about the role of the Public Private Partnerships:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?pg=newsalert&lg=en&year=2009&na=ppp-310309

The contacts:

Catherine Ray +32 2 29 69921 Catherine.RAY@ec.europa.eu
Sophie Andersson +32 2 29 50208 Sophie.ANDERSSON@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 15 July : Adoption of Recommendations on Visa Free Travel for Western Balkans

The news:

The European Commission will adopt a series of recommendations within a proposal for granting visa liberalisation to the Western Balkan countries. The submission of the proposal to EU Member States aims at enabling the citizens to travel without visas to the countries of the Schengen Area and confirms the European Commission's long-standing commitment to visa-free travel.

Citizens of those countries benefiting of the visa-free regime will no longer have to go through the often time-consuming procedures that a visa application entails. Easier travelling to the EU can greatly contribute to the process of Balkan countries integration in the European Union.

The background:

The proposal for lifting the visa obligation is the result of more than one year's intensive work in the Framework of the Visa Liberalisation dialogue process. Five countries of the Western Balkans (namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) have participated in this dialogue process.

On the basis of roadmaps presented by the European Commission in the first half of 2008, the countries have made important progress in improving passport security, in strengthening border controls and surveillance, in improving migration border management, in fighting organised crime and corruption, as well as in external relations and fundamental rights.

The event:

11.00: Joint Press Conference by Vice President Jacques Barrot and Commissioner Olli Rehn the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission website:

VP Commissioner Barrot's website:

The contacts:

Mic hele Cercone +32 2 29 80963 Michele.CERCONE@ec.europa.eu

Riccardo Mosca +32 2 29 61404 Riccardo.MOSCA@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 16 July : Revision of security of gas supply Directive

The news:

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.

The background:

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.

The event:

11.00: Press conference by Commissioner Piebalgs in the Press Room of the Berlaymont Building, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Security of supply package:

MEMO/08/701 : Safeguarding security of natural gas supply

Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.498 96 62 93 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 16 July : Keeping an eye on our food – 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed

The news:

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 background:

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.

The event:

F rom 9.00 to 19.00: "Conference 30 years Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)", Autoworld, Brussels.

12.30 : Press Conference with Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou in the Berlaymont, Press Room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS + VNR

The sources:

European Commission's website on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed:

RASFF conference website/registration:

RASFF Annual Report 2007:

  • I-040308 FVO food controls: animal products

  • I-055385 50 years of food safety: cattle market 2007

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 29 86378 haravgi-nina.papadoulaki@ec.europa.eu

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29 72686 antonie.kerwien@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 16 July : Ecodesign for TVs, Fridges, Electric Motors and Circulators will save 190Twh annually

The news:

Energy saving: Commission adopts four ecodesign regulations on electric motors, circulators, TVs and fridges/freezers. The package will save annually about 190 TWh electricity by 2020, which corresponds to the combined annual electricity consumption of Sweden and Austria.

The background:

Under the ecodesign regulations the affected products will not be allowed to consume more than a certain amount of energy.

The regulation on electric motors covers most of the motors used in industrial applications, such as pumps, fans and compressors, and will boost the application "variable speed drives", Such drives adjust the speed and output of the motor, to the actually required output instead of running permanently at full regime, thereby drastically reducing its energy consumption. The motor regulation is expected to save more than 135 TWh annually by 2020.

Circulators can be found in Europe in almost every building's boiler or heating system. The circulator regulation requires 'intelligent' high efficiency circulators. These high efficiency circulators adjust their speed according to heating and pumping needs instead of running permanently, as is the case for standard circulator pumps, leading to annual electricity savings of about 25 TWh by 2020.

The regulation on televisions requires improvements of televisions design, including plasma TVs, and the regulation on refrigerators and freezers requires that from 2011/2013 the energy efficiency class must be at least "A" and "A+", respectively. The expected annual savings by 2020 compared to a business as usual scenario are about 30 TWh.

The event:

Adoption by the Commission

The sources:

European Commission's website on

Commissioner Piebalg's website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.498 96 62 93 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu

Marilyn Carruthers +32 2 299 9451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 16 July : Latest Key Data on Education in 31 European countries

The news:

The European Commission will present the 2009 edition of its regular publication 'Key Data on Education inEurope' . 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 background:

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.

The event:

Technical briefing on the record in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels at 11:00 (time tbc)

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Eurydice:

European Commission website:

Commissioner Figel's website:

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

Mirella Rossi (Eurydice) + 32 2 299 4987 mirella.rossi@ec.europa.eu

Friday 17 July : New Eurobarometer survey on employment and the crisis

The news:

The European Commission will present the results of a new Eurobarometer survey on the employment and social situation of Europeans and the impact of the crisis. The survey, carried out in all 27 Member States and candidate countries over three weeks in late May and early June asked Europeans how the crisis has affected their employment situation and the job market in general. It also asked more generally about people's attitudes to changing jobs, training and the role of the EU in social and employment policies.

The background:

The new Special Eurobarometer survey on European employment and social policy updates a similar survey carried out in 2006:
http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs261_en.pdf .

The results will allow comparisons of trends since the previous survey which also includes a number of new questions specifically on the crisis.

The event:

Publication of the new Eurobarometer results.

National factsheets on key results in each Member State will be available.

The sources:

More information on EU response to the social dimension of the crisis:

More information on employment:

Commissioner Špidla's website:

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

Friday 17 July : Signature of the Social Partners' agreement on prevention from sharp injuries (including needle stick injuries)

The news:

A new framework agreement on prevention from sharp injuries will be signed by the European social partners, EPSU (European Public Services Union) and HOSPEEM (European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association) in Brussels on 17 July.

The European Commission is very pleased that social partners have managed to agree on better conditions for workers at risk in hospital and healthcare. In practise this will achieve the safest possible working environment and will protect healthcare workers from blood-borne infections due to sharp injuries (including needle stick injuries).

The background:

Each year, 1 200 000 injuries are caused by sharp instruments and constitute one of the most common and serious risks threatening health sector workers in Europe. The consequences can be very grave, namely risk of infections liable to cause very serious illnesses such as viral hepatitis or AIDS. Furthermore, this represents a high cost for health systems and for society generally. The agreement concluded by the social partners aims to standardise the use of medical devices and was adopted after 5 months of negotiations. This agreement specifically addresses the priorities objectives of the Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work ".

After the two-stage consultations on "protecting European healthcare workers from blood-borne infections due to needle stick injuries" in 2006 and 2007, the EU social partners decided to negotiate on a wider basis covering all types of sharp injuries (including needle sticks). The negotiations started in January 2009 and were completed on 2 June 2009. After examining the provisions of the agreement, the Commission will submit, after the summer, a proposal to the Council for implementation of the agreement by a directive.

The event:

The framework agreement will be signed on 17 July at 11.00 at the Berlaymont VIP Corner, in the presence of Commissioner Vladimír Špidla, by representatives of EPSU (European Public Services Union) and HOSPEEM (European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association).

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European social dialogue :

More information on health and safety at work:

Commissioner Špidla's website:

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

Wednesday 22 July : Dairy market situation

The news:

Following a request of the European Council of 18/19 June 2009, the Commission will adopt a Communication on the dairy market situation.

The Communication will include an in-depth analysis of the dairy market, including possible options to stabilise the market, while respecting the outcome of the Common Agricultural Policy Heath Check.

The background:

The dairy market situation has deteriorated dramatically during the last 12 months.

After a price spike in 2007, prices have dropped substantially, with serious effects on producers' incomes.

Prices for milk delivered to dairies ha ve come down from 0.30-0.40 €/litre to an EU-27 average of 0.24 €/litre, with prices for many producers at 0.20-0.21 €/litre or less.

This has triggered substantial unrest amongst dairy farmers with many demonstrations.

The event:

Press conference of Maria nn Fischer Boel (to be confirmed)

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

IP/09/57 : Dairy market: Commission proposes additional measures to help dairy sector

European Commission's website:

Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel's blog:

The contacts:

Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80 michael.mann@ec.europa.eu

Johan Reyniers +32 2 295 67 28 johan.reyniers@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 22 July (date TBC): Commission calls on EU-Members to step up action against Alzheimer's disease

The news:

Already for a decade the Commission has been active in fighting Alzheimer and other dementias. A Communication on the disease will now call on EU-countries to promote mental well-being in old age. Identifying and promoting best practice in diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions is one way to effectively intervene when the disease is still at an early stage. In addition, a shared European effort is needed to better understand and research Alzheimer’s. The Communication will also focus on the rights of people with dementias. Tackling patient abuse, reducing the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s as well as a general anti-age-discrimination approach are important actions in this regard.

The Commission will also invite Member States to combat Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases through enhanced cooperation of their research activities. The new approach proposed by the Commission, in its Recommendation to the Council, is called Joint Programming. It will involve Member States engaging voluntarily in the development of a Strategic Research Agenda establishing medium to long term research needs and objectives in the area of neurodegenerative diseases. Some Member States have already shown their willingness to pool resources to conduct research in an area where a common initiative would offer major added value compared with the current, fragmented efforts in the EU.

The background:

Alzheimer's disease is a slowly developing decline in the mental ability of a person, whereby memory, thinking, and judgement are impaired, and personality may deteriorate. It affects mainly those aged 60 and older. By now, Alzheimer is one of the most important causes of disability in elderly people.

As life expectancy is getting higher and higher, the number of people suffering from these conditions has increased dramatically. Most recent studies suggest that we will see the number of cases double every 20 years.

Dementias are conditions with very a substantial impact on public expenditure. It is therefore necessary to take all available steps that can help to reduce this burden.

The event:

Press Conference with Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik at 12.30 (tbc) in the Berlaymont, Press Room. Date to be confirmed.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

DG SANCO's website on Alzheimer's disease:

Collection of EU-funded brain research projects:

SPEECH/08/575 : Alzheimer's disease: Dimensions and Challenges

Speech during the French Presidency Conference ''The fight against Alzheimer's and Related Diseases''

IP/08/1140 : Public Research: Common problems need common solutions! Commission proposes to Member States to jointly address major societal challenges

MEMO/08/503 : Public Research: Common problems need common solutions! Commission proposes to Member States to jointly address big societal challenges – Q & A

Commissionner Vassiliou's website:

Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Nina Papadoulaki +32 2 29 86378 haravgi-nina.papadoulaki@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Ray +32 2 296 99 21 catherine.ray@ec.europa.eu

Antonie Kerwien +32 2 29 72686 antonie.kerwien@ec.europa.eu

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08 sophie.andersson@ec.europa.eu


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