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AGENDA/09/37

Brussels Friday 30 October 2009

Top News from the European Commission

2 November to 29 November 2009

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

Monday 2 November: Single Euro Payments Area Direct Debits launched 2

Tuesday 3 November: Autumn 2009 Economic Forecasts 3

Wednesday 4 November: US-EU Energy Council - Deepening the transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues of mutual interest 4

Wednesday 4 November 2009: Energising the ACP countries 6

Wednesday 4 November: Consultation on cooperation between business registers 7

Friday 6 November: 10th EU-India Summit, in New Delhi 8

Monday 9 November: Special Eurobarometer on discrimination 9

Wednesday 11 November: How should the Citizens Initiative foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty work in practice? 10

Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 November: Third Equality Summit, Stockholm 11

Tuesday 17 November: Consumers: Results of EU-wide action to improve websites selling mobile phone services such as ring-tones 12

Thursday 19 November: Towards a creative Europe: What role for creative industries? 13

Wednesday 25 November: Education reforms in the EU - trends and data 2009 14

Monday 2 November: Single Euro Payments Area Direct Debits launched

The news:

From 2 November, European banks will start to offer customers, both consumers and corporates, the possibility to make for the first time regular payments using the new SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) Direct Debit scheme.

Direct Debits are a convenient way for customers to make regular payments and an efficient method for companies to collect money such as bills for water, gas, electricity and telecom services as well for magazine and periodical subscriptions. Although direct debits are widely used in many euro area countries, at present, there is no pan-European scheme in place for making these payments possible across borders.

The SEPA direct debit can also be used for existing national direct debits, which means companies such as utilities can use the SEPA Direct Debit to collect money from customers located in different Member States as well as in their home country.

Thousands of European banks have already signed up for the scheme in advance of the November 2010 deadline for full coverage across the euro area, but customers will always retain the right to decide whether or not to accept a direct debit on their bank account. For banks from the non-euro area, the deadline is November 2014.

The background:

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is the area in which citizens, companies and other economic actors will be able to make and receive payments in euros, within Europe, whether between or within national boundaries under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location. In other words making euro payments throughout Europe will become as easy, cheap and secure as making national payments.

SEPA will harmonize the millions of everyday electronic payments made with credit transfers, direct debits and payment cards (debit and credit cards). SEPA will allow customers to make and receive non-cash euro payments anywhere in the SEPA (i.e. EU 27, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), using a single bank account and a single set of payment instruments. SEPA is thus a natural progression to the introduction of the euro and another major step in realising the full potential of the single market for Europe.

The Single Euro Payments Area is an initiative of the European banking industry, represented by the European Payments Council that is strongly supported by the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The event:

The European Payments Council held a launch event on 13 October 2009.

03/11: Technical Briefing OFF the record in the Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

SPEECH/09/466 : SEPA Direct Debit Launch

The sources:

European Commission's websites:

Commissioner McCreevy's website:

The contact:

Oliver Drewes +32 2 299 24 21 oliver.drewes@ec.europa.eu

Tuesday 3 November: Autumn 2009 Economic Forecasts

The news:

The Commission publishes its Autumn economic forecasts for 2009-2011 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public finances among other indicators. For all 27 European Union countries plus the EU and euro area aggregates.

The background:

The Commission publishes economic forecasts four times a year: two comprehensive exercises in spring and autumn, plus two lighter exercises in between – the interim forecasts – for GDP and inflation for the seven largest EU economies.

In last exercise, on 14 September, the Commission had put economic growth in 2009 at

-4.0% both in the euro area and the EU.

The event:

11:00 Press Conference by Commissioner Joaquín Almunia at the Berlaymont in Brussels. IP and economic forecasts on the day.

  • Video and photo coverage by EbS.

The sources:

IP/09/1309 : September 2009 Interim Forecast

IP/09/693 : Spring 2009 Economic Forecast

European Commission websites:

The contacts :

Amelia Torres + 32 2 295 4629 amelia.torres@ec.europa.eu

Marisa González + 32 2 295 1925 marisa.gonzales-iglesias@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 4 November: US-EU Energy Council - Deepening the transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues of mutual interest

The news:

The EU-US Summit on 3 November is expected to endorse in its Declaration the setting up of an EU-US Energy Council and task it with several missions. A first meeting of the

EU-US Energy Council will take place immediately after the Summit meeting in Washington.

The first full ministerial-level EU-U.S. Energy Council should convene as soon as possible and preferably no later than by the end of 2009. It is in the interests of both the European Union and the United States to deepen their bilateral energy cooperation to address the growing challenges of global energy security, sustainability and climate change.

The EU-US Energy Council would provide a new framework for deepening the transatlantic dialogue on strategic energy issues of mutual interest. It would also be the platform for cooperation on energy policies and strengthening the ongoing collaboration on energy technologies.

The background:

Ensuring security of energy supply, developing competitive markets and meeting the environmental challenges are at the top of the EU and US political agendas. The EU and the US agreed to develop strategic cooperation on energy and energy security, presented in a joint declaration at the EU-US Vienna Presidential Summit on 21 June 2006. This cooperation contributed to increased regional stability, greater security of supply and finally, new business opportunities. The dialogue with the US is part of the EU external policy to serve Europe’s energy interests.

On June 12, 2009, the US Administration proposed to the EU the setting up of a EU-US Energy Council (EUEC) to deepen the existing energy dialogue structures. On 16 September, the European Commission and the Presidency sent a joint reply to the US welcoming the proposal and offering three broad areas for enhanced cooperation: (1) energy policies, (2) global energy security and markets and (3) energy technology research cooperation.

The event:

30/10 12:15 Technical Briefing during the briefing for the EU-US Summit, Berlaymont Press room, Brussels

  • Video and photo coverage by EbS of 03/11 and 04/11. Press conference on the 03/11 will be covered by EbS (live or transmitted shortly after)

The sources:

European Commission website on bilateral cooperation for Energy:

Commissioner Piebalg's website:

European Commission website on International cooperation in Research

Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny +32.229 66.293 ferran.tarradellas@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Ray +32 22969921 catherine.ray@ec.europa.eu

Marilyn Carruthers +32 229 99 451 marilyn.carruthers@ec.europa.eu

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

Wednesday 4 November 2009: Energising the ACP countries

The news:

After the successful implementation of the first phase of the ACP-EU Energy Facility, the European Union and the ACP Group of States agreed to earmark € 200 million for a new phase under the 10 th European Development Fund (2009-2013). The new Energy Facility will focus on improving access to sustainable energy services in rural and peri-urban areas while fighting against climate change by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar systems, wind farms, hydro projects, biomass (biofuels and biogas) and geothermal systems as well as promoting energy efficiency measures in public and private buildings, for example the replacement of energy-consuming light bulbs with more efficient ones

On 4 November 2009, the European Commission is hosting a conference with about 170 participants from ACP countries, EU Member States, international organisations, NGOs and private sector representatives. The aim is to present the results of the first Call for Proposals - with a special focus on three awarded projects (Central African region, Dominican Republic, Vanuatu) - and to announce the launch of the second Energy Facility.

The background:

Although access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy services is fundamental for economic prosperity, social well-being and security, 1.6 billion people still lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion rely on traditional biomass for cooking. The Energy Facility aims to expand the provision of affordable energy services to the poor in rural and peri-urban areas, while encouraging the development of clean and sustainable energy solutions.

A first Call for Proposals was launched and successfully completed in 2006. Seventy-five projects, involving NGOs, ACP governments, international organisations and private companies, were selected and granted a total amount of € 196 million while mobilising more than € 230 million of co-financing from the public and private sectors. Almost 7 million people will benefit from an improved access to energy services through these projects.

The event:

International conference 'ACP-EU Energy Facility: Energising the ACP countries', Wednesday 4 November 2009 from 9 am, Centre ALBERT BORSCHETTE, room AB- 0A.

The sources:

Energy Facility website:

ACP Group of States website:

Karel de Gucht's website:

The contacts:

John Clancy +32 2 29 53 773 john.clancy@ec.europa.eu

Marie-Pierre Jouglain +32 2 29 84 449 marie-pierre.jouglain@ec.europa.eu

Wednesday 4 November: Consultation on cooperation between business registers

The news:

The European Commission is to launch a public consultation on possible ways to enhance co-operation between business registers.

In the light of the financial crisis, the Commission aims to make financial markets more transparent and to restore confidence in them. The objective of the consultation is therefore to improve access to business information and to increase legal certainty surrounding cross-border operations in the EU.

The responses to the consultation will feed into the Commission's assessment whether it needs to come forward with legislative or non-legislative initiatives.

The background:

Throughout Europe, business registers offer a range of services, which may vary from one country to another. The core services provided by all registers, however, are to examine and store company information, such as information on the company's legal form, its seat and its legal representatives, and to make this information available to the public.

Facilitating access to official information on companies for third parties was one of the objectives of the First Company law Directive (68/151/EEC) in 1968. Its 2003 amendment ensured that all Member States have electronic business registers as of 2007. Furthermore, other requirements in EU law, such as the cross-border mergers directive (2005/56/EC) and the directive on branch disclosure (89/666/EEC) have made the day-to-day co-operation of business registers a necessity. Nevertheless, the co-operation between business registers remains voluntary and does not seem to be sufficient to achieve certainty in all cross-border legal procedures and to increase transparency in the Single market.

The event:

Press release

The sources:

The Commission's Internal Market web site on company law and corporate governance:

Commissioner McCreevy's website:

The contacts:

Oliver Drewes + 32 2 299 2421 oliver.drewes@ec.europa.eu

Catherine Bunyan + 32 2 299 6512 catherine.bunyan@ec.europa.eu

Friday 6 November: 10 th EU-India Summit, in New Delhi

The news:

The Commission’s delegation will be led by the President of the European Commission, Mr. José Manuel Barroso, who will be accompanied by. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as Catherine Ashton, Commissioner for Trade.

This Summit marks a decade of growing relations, and seeks to further deepen relations between the two strategic partners in key areas of cooperation. It aims at enhancing dialogue and cooperation on issues of major global concern such as climate change, energy security and fight against terrorism, as well as prominent regional issues and bilateral trade.

Naturally, a few weeks ahead of Copenhagen, the focus of the summit will be on key issues like climate change and energy. As a follow up of discussions in the G20 both sides will exchange views on the global financial crisis, and the reform of international financial institutions.

Furthermore, the Summit will give new impetus to the negotiations on a bilateral trade and investment agreement. Both the EU and India are determined to move towards a much anticipated deal which would be beneficial to both sides.

The Summit will welcome the signature of a Co-operation Agreement between Euratom and India in the field of fusion energy research as well as the launch of a call for proposals for research in the field of solar energy. It will also underline the financial resources to be made available for development cooperation for the period 2011-2013.

The background:

The EU and India have held regular political dialogue since their first bilateral Summit in 2000 in Lisbon and since 2004, EU-India relations have been elevated into a concrete strategic partnership. Today, India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world and a central partner of the EU in addressing many global challenges.

The event:

30/10, 12.30: Technical Briefing OFF the Record, Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

  • Photos + Video Stockshots "INDIA 2009" (distributed on the 03/11)

The sources:

European Commission's website on external relation with India:

President and Commissioners' websites:

The contacts:

Christiane Hohmann +32 2 29 91196 christiane.hohmann@ec.europa.eu

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio +32 2 295 2658 amadeu.altafaj-tardio@ec.europa.eu

Anja Fiedler +32 2 29 80385 anja.fiedler@ec.europa.eu

Monday 9 November: Special Eurobarometer on discrimination

The news:

The European Commission will publish the results of the Special Eurobarometer on the perceptions and experiences of and attitudes towards discrimination in Europe.

This survey helps the Commission to monitor the trend of public opinion on discrimination issues. This year, new questions have been added to measure the extent to which the financial and economic crisis may hamper the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and on the perceptions of diversity in the media.

In addition and for the first time, the survey also covered the three candidate countries: Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey. The survey comprises a full report, a summary and 30 national factsheets. Results will also be presented during the Third Equality Summit that will take place in Stockholm on 16-17 November.

The background:

This Eurobarometer survey on discrimination is the third one issued by the European Commission on the issue. The first survey was conducted in the summer of 2006 in anticipation of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, and the second one was conducted in early 2008.

One of the fundamental values of the EU is that all its citizens should be able to enjoy a life free from discrimination. The EU takes action on discrimination in a variety of ways: through legislation, funding and by encouraging exchange of ideas and good practice. An important element is the support given to EU-level civil society networks on the different discrimination grounds as well as support to cooperation at EU level between national Equality Bodies. The EU also runs an awareness-raising campaign called “For Diversity, Against Discrimination”.

On 2 July 2008, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive which provides for protection from discrimination on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief, outside of the workplace. The proposed directive is currently being discussed in the Council.

The event:

11.15: technical briefing, in the Press Room of the Berlaymont, Brussels.

  • Covered by EbS

The sources :

More info on discrimination and 2009 results of the Eurobarometer on discrimination:

Special Eurobarometer 296:

For Diversity. Against discrimination campaign:

Proposed new directive on anti-discrimination:

Commissioner Špidla's website:

  • VNR: I-057447 Europe's Forgotten Citizens Defending Roma Rights in the EU

  • VNR: I-058019 Accessibility: For everyone's Benefit

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 11 November: How should the Citizens Initiative foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty work in practice?

The news:

The Commission launches a public consultation on how the Citizens Initiative foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty should work in practice.

The background:

The Citizens Initiative is an important innovation for European Citizens, introducing an element of participatory democracy. The Lisbon Treaty provides that one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may directly request that the Commission brings forward an initiative of interest to them in an area of EU competence.

The Treaty provides that the procedures and conditions required for the Citizens Initiative should be determined by a Regulation, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission. The Green Paper will allow the public to suggest how the Citizens Initiative can work best and how the Regulation should be framed.

The event:

Green Paper on the Citizens Initiative

Press conference with Commissioner Wallström in the Berlaymont press room, Brussels, time tbc.

  • Covered by EbS

The sources:

For further information on the Lisbon Treaty and its provisions:

Vice-President Margot Wallström's website:

DG Communication website:

The contacts:

Joe Hennon +32.2.2953593 joseph.hennon@ec.europa.eu

Irena Novakova +32.2.2999608 irena.novakova@ec.europa.eu

Tove Ernst +32.2.2965520 tove.ernst@ext.ec.europa.eu

Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 November: Third Equality Summit, Stockholm

The news:

The 3rd Equality Summit will take place in Stockholm. It is organised by the Swedish Presidency of the EU and the European Commission.

Following previous summits in Berlin (for the opening of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All) and in Paris (2008), the 3rd Equality Summit aims to promote dialogue and debate as well as the exchange of ideas and good practices. The main theme this year is cooperation for equality between all different stakeholders concerned and at different levels (national, regional, local).

The Summit will bring together approximately 300 high-level delegates representing EU Member States, candidate and EEA countries, international organisations, EU-level NGO networks and social partners, business sector, media and academia.

The background:

Since the first Equality Summit in Berlin in January 2007, some important milestones have been reached at European level. In November 2007, the European Council adopted a Resolution on the follow-up of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, clearly paving the way for further activities both at European and national levels.

On 2 July 2008, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive which provides for protection from discrimination on grounds of age, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief, outside the workplace. The directive aims to fill the gap in legal protection from discrimination for people in Europe. In addition, the Commission adopted a policy communication giving a new impetus to the dialogue on non-discrimination policy and making more effective use of available instruments, both in general and with particular emphasis on promoting the social inclusion of Roma. The proposed directive is currently being discussed in the Council.

The events:

The 3 rd Equality Summit will be held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 16-17 November 2009 at the Stockholm city conference Centre: Norra latin, Drottninggatan 71 b, 111 23 Stockholm.

A welcome reception will be hosted by Katri Linna, the Swedish Equality Ombudsman on Sunday, 15 November at 7 pm at her offices: Torsgatan 11, 111 23 Stockholm.

A press conference will be held on Tuesday 17 November at 1pm at Norra latin.

The sources:

More info on discrimination and 2009 results of the Eurobarometer on discrimination:

More info on the third Equality summit

For Diversity. Against discrimination campaign:

Proposed new directive on anti-discrimination:

  • VNR: I-057447 Europe's Forgotten Citizens Defending Roma Rights in the EU

  • VNR: I-058019 Accessibility: For everyone's Benefit

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

Tuesday 17 November: Consumers: Results of EU-wide action to improve websites selling mobile phone services such as ring-tones

The news:

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva will present the results of the enforcement action taken by Member States to correct breaches in websites selling mobile phone services such as ring-tones.

The background:

In July 2008, Commissioner Kuneva presented the first results of the Ring-tones "Sweep", carried out by EU enforcement authorities, which found that 80% of websites selling mobile phone services needed to be further investigated for suspected breaches of EU consumer rules.

Many of the websites in question targeted children and young people, and the problems found included unclear price information, misleading terms and conditions or situations whereby the consumer was lured into a contract unaware.

Enforcement authorities have spent the last 15 months following up on these findings and working to bring these sites into line with EU consumer law.

The event:

11.15 Press Conference with Commissioner Kuneva and Head of the Italian Anti-trust Authority Paolo Saba in Berlaymont press room

The sources:

For information on the Ringtones Sweep and the Commission's work on enforcement of consumer legislation, see:

Commissioner Kuneva's website:

The contacts:

Helen Kearns +32 2 2987638 helen.kearns@ec.europa.eu

Emer Traynor +32 2 2921548 emer.traynor@ec.europa.eu

Thursday 19 November: Towards a creative Europe: What role for creative industries?

The news

The 7th and final Brussels Debate within the framework of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 will take place under the title: "Towards a creative Europe: What role for creative industries?" is the final debate

During this period of economic crisis, there is growing political recognition of the importance of the creative industries in the new "experience economy". However, in practice, the potential of this sector as a motor of the economy remains underexploited. This debate will take a closer look at how these industries could be better used as a conduit for innovation for society as a whole and what their place could be in the future European innovation strategy.

The background:

The European Union has declared 2009 the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The Year aims to raise awareness of importance of creativity and innovation as a key competence of personal, social and economic development.

Throughout EYIC 2009, there has been already presented six out of seven debates on key topics around Creativity and Innovation. All of the debates are held in cooperation with the European Policy Centre as a special partner of the Year. The debates are designed to provide a platform for reflection and exchange of ideas which can contribute to policy discussion on Creativity and Innovation.

The event:

17h – 19h: 7 th Brussels Debate "Towards a creative Europe: What role for creative industries?", Polak Room, Résidence Palace, Rue de la Loi 155.

Registration starts at 16h30.

Speakers:

  • Françoise le Bail, Deputy Director General, DG Enterprise

  • Hasan Bakhshi, NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), UK

  • Telmo Faria, Mayor of Obidos, Portugal

  • Ruta Prusiviciene, Director of Vilnius Festival, Lithuania

  • Anne-Marie Boutin, President, APCI (Agence pour la promotion de la créativité industrielle), France

The sources:

Website of the Creativity and Innovation 2009:

Education and Culture web site:

Commissioner Šefčovič's website:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67 John.Macdonald@ec.europa.eu

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

Wednesday 25 November: Education reforms in the EU - trends and data 2009

The news

The European Commission will release two major reports on Member States' progress towards their objectives in education and training, as defined under the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

The reports will highlight the progress made by the EU and Member States in the area of key competences and in relation to selected indicators and benchmarks in education and training.

The background:

The 2009 report on indicators and benchmarks will analyse progress in Member States' reforms of their educational systems towards the 2010 objectives in certain key areas. In particular, it uses benchmark indicators in five areas, including numbers of early school leavers, graduates in science, maths and technology subjects, and adults' participation in lifelong learning. The report helps identify which of the countries are catching up or falling behind, losing momentum or moving further ahead compared to the others.

The second report is the Commission's contribution to the forthcoming Joint Progress Report of the Council and the Commission, which will be published in 2010. It assesses the implementation of the “Education & Training 2010 work programme”, which is the over-arching framework for policy collaboration in education & training in the EU during this decade. The Joint Progress Report will look at areas where co-operation between EU countries has led to improvements as well as those where progress remains insufficient. The focus will be on key competences (of young people and adults). But information is also provided on the implementation of lifelong learning policies (e.g. qualification frameworks and the validation of non-formal learning), vocational education and training and higher education .

The event:

12:30: Press conference with Maroš Šefčovič, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Berlaymont press room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission - European strategy and co-operation in education and training:

Reports on the implementation of the Education & Training 2010 work programme [includes 2008 Joint Council/Commission Report plus national reports]:

Report on Benchmarks and Indicators:

Commissioner Šefčovič's website:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67 John.Macdonald@ec.europa.eu

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


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