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Brussels Friday 27 November 2009

Top News from the European Commission

30 November to 27 December 2009

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

Monday 30 November: EU-China Summit 2

Monday 30 November: Science and Technology cooperation agreements with Japan and Jordan 3

Tuesday 1st December: Fighting organised crime: European Commission breathes new life into assets seized from mafia 4

Wednesday 2 December: EU Report on safety of Christmas Lights 5

Wednesday 2 December: Developing the European Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020 6

Thursday 3 December: Entry into force of the Rail passenger rights regulation 7

Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 December: Council decides fishing possibilities for 2010 on the Commission's proposal 9

Wednesday 16 December: Designation of the first Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), in Budapest 10

Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 December: Create. Innovate. Grow- Closing Conference of European Year of Creativity and Innovation 11

Monday 30 November: EU-China Summit

The news:

The 12 th EU-China Summit will take place in Nanjing. Participants from the side of the Commission will be the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

This Summit will build upon on a series of successful meetings in 2009, notably the 11th EU-China Summit in Prague on 20 May as well as the visit of Vice-President Xi Jinping to Brussels on 8 October, where he had a successful meeting with President Barroso.

As one of the largest and fastest growing emerging economies and the EU’s second trading partner, China is a an important international player and a vital partner for the EU in addressing global challenges such as climate change and the financial and economic crisis. Both these issues are expected to be high on the agenda of the Leaders’ meeting. Further subjects to be discussed include the state of play of EU-China relations and international issues of mutual concern.

Moreover, it is also expected that the Summit will endorse progress in our bilateral cooperation in different sectors, for example with the renewal of the Science and Technology Agreement.

The summit will be preceded by a Foreign Minister's Troika on 29 th November, which will focus on regional and international issues. Furthermore, a meeting of the Euro-zone troika (Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker) with their Chinese counterparts will also take place on the 29 th November.

An EU-China Business Summit will take place in parallel to the summit on the 30 th November.

The background:

This year's Summit will be able to build on the useful discussions that took place within the China-EU Strategic Partnership Forum on 18-19 November in Beijing, which was the first Summit of EU and Chinese Think Tanks. It will also be able to take into account the outcome of the “EU-China Workshop on technology cooperation and transfer in relation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Shanghai, October 26 th. Furthermore, the Leaders meet just a few days after the 28 th round of the EU-China dialogue on human rights (Beijing, 20 th November 2009) as human rights issues are part of he regular political dialogue between the EU and China.

The event:

Tuesday 24/11, 12.15: Technical Briefing OFF the record

  • EbS coverage of the EU-China Summit in Nanjing + photo

The sources:

European Commission's websites:

EU-China Summit 2009

The contacts:

Christiane Hohmann +32 2 29 91196

Amadeu Altafaj Tardio +32 2 295 2658

Anja Fiedler +32 2 29 80385

Monday 30 November: Science and Technology cooperation agreements with Japan and Jordan

The news:

Commissioner Janez Potočnik will, at two separate signing ceremonies, sign bilateral Science and Technology (S&T) cooperation agreements with Japan and Jordan.

These agreements will help structure and enhance S&T cooperation in areas of common interest, such as energy and sustainable development where joint research efforts could bring common solutions and mutual benefits .

The background:

S&T cooperation agreements constitute a framework for policy dialogue, to identify common interests and priorities as well as the necessary tools for S&T collaboration, such as reciprocal participation in research programmes, exchange of researchers, and coordinated calls for proposals.

Japan and Jordan included, the European Community (EC) has so far signed 19 S&T cooperation agreements.

A Science and Technology cooperation agreement:

  • describes the basic principles underlying the agreement: mutual benefit, reciprocal participation, exchange of researchers

  • establishes a joint research committee which regularly meets to review and define bilateral cooperation activities

  • determines specific rules governing the participation in the parties' research programmes and the treatment of intellectual property rights in cooperative research activities.

The event:

13:00: Commissioner Potočnik and Ambassador Odano sign the Science and Technology cooperation agreement between the EU and Japan, in the presence of Ambassador Christian Danielsson, of the Swedish presidency.

13:15: Commissioner Potočnik and Ambassador Dr. Ahmed Masa'deh sign the Science and Technology cooperation agreement between the EU and Jordan, in the presence of Ambassador Christian Danielsson, of the Swedish presidency.

The two ceremonies will take place in the Justus Lipsius building.

Journalists wishing to attend the event should contact:

The sources:

IP/08/1395 : Putting Europe high on the global map of science and technology: Commission advocates new international strategy

Information on international science and technology cooperation:

Commissioner Potočnik's website:

The contacts:

Catherine Ray +32 2 296 99 21

Sophie Andersson +

Tuesday 1 st December: Fighting organised crime: European Commission breathes new life into assets seized from mafia

The news:

The Commission will present examples of former mafia-owned properties in Sicily which have been confiscated by the state and transformed into social, agri-tourism or other legal business ventures, with financial backing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The background:

The re-development initiatives are creating new jobs, especially for young people, and providing hope in areas which have long been blighted by high unemployment and crime.

Experts from the regional managing authority in Sicily and people working on the projects will be in Brussels to tell of their experiences in converting former mafia lands.

Among the examples of properties which have been renewed with the help of the ERDF are:

  • the Centopassi wine store, built on a 17 000 square metre estate in San Cipirello (Palermo), which was seized from mafia boss Giovanni Genovese;

  • the "Terre di Corleone” agri-tourism project in Corleone (Palermo), on land seized from Salvatore Riina;

  • the “Giardino della memoria” (garden of memory) in San Giuseppe Jato (Palermo), using assets seized from Giovanni Brusca.

The event:

12:15-12:45: Press conference by Paweł Samecki, Commissioner for Regional Policy. Berlaymont press room, Brussels.

  • Available on EbS

The source:

Commissioner Paweł Samecki's website:

The contacts:

Dennis Abbott +32 2 29 59258

Constantina Avraam +32 2 29 59667

Wednesday 2 December: EU Report on safety of Christmas Lights

The news:

The Commission will publish the results of tests on the safety of Christmas lights, carried out by 5 Member States during the period 2007-2009, in which the safety of lighting chains from across the entire pricing range was checked. The results of the project show that there are serious and sometimes fatal risks associated with a significant proportion of Christmas lights sold on the EU market.

The background:

The joint project was carried out by market surveillance authorities in Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Netherlands. In order to find and identify these dangerous products on the European market or before entering it, they conducted a market survey identifying the main distribution channels for lighting chains as well as the time frame for this seasonal product (when shipments arrive and when distributed to retail shops) in close co-operation with customs authorities.

They tested at least 25 samples each, covering the entire price range and selected on suspicion of non–compliance. The project evaluated the technical results and assessed the severity of non-conformities as well as measures taken by the authorities concerned.

The event:

15.00: Commissioner Kuneva will present the results of the study to the IMCO Committee in the European Parliament, Brussels.

IP, MEMO and publication of the detailed report by the five surveillance authorities.

The sources:

  • New Infoclip will be available

European Commission's website:

The contacts:

Helen Kearns +32 2 2987638

Emer Traynor +32 2 2921548

Wednesday 2 December: Developing the European Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020

The news:

Involvement in a road traffic crash is the leading cause of death and hospital admission for citizens of the European Union (EU) under 45 years. With 39,000 road traffic deaths in 2008 and socio-economic costs of around 2% of GDP (€180 billion), road safety has to continue to be a priority area for action in the EU.

The European Commission will discuss the results of the consultation on the next European Road Safety Action Programme (2011-2020) during a Conference on Road Safety on Wednesday 2 December. Speakers from all interested parties will present their experiences and develop new ideas that could serve as an input for the next action programme. The discussion will be organised along the following major themes:

  • Assessment of the results of the current European Road Safety Action Plan (2001-2010)

  • First results of the public consultation on the next European action programme (2011-2020)

  • Safety of vehicles and of infrastructure

  • The European citizen, actor of road safety

The conference will be opened by Vice-President Tajani, Commissioner for Transport.

The background:

The public consultation launched in October and November 2009 aimed at engaging European citizens and stakeholders, governments at national, regional and local levels, as well as the business and professional sectors, in identifying the key road safety problems to be addressed by the European Road Safety Action Programme 2011 – 2020 and the priority actions to be taken to address the unacceptable and costly levels of road deaths and serious injuries across the EU.

The event:

9.30 – 18.00: The conference on Road Safety will be held in the Room de Gasperi, building Charlemagne, rue de la Loi 170, Brussels.

The conference will be opened by Vice-President Tajani and will also be addressed by Mr Brian Simpson, President of the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament and Mrs Åsa Torstensson, Transport Minister of Sweden.

12.30: Press Conference by Vice-President Tajani, with the participation of Mrs Michèle Merli, Déléguée interministérielle à la sécurité routière (France) and Mr Francesco Gori, General Manager of Pirelli. Berlaymont Press Room, Brussels.

The press conference will include the European Road safety Charter Awards

IP, MEMO, leaflet

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

Commission Website on the Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020

  • I-056544 Info-clip Road Safety: cross-border enforcement – 2008

  • I-051133 VNR: Smart cars to reduce road accidents - 2006

The contacts:

Fabio Pirotta +32 229 67284

Andrea Maresi + 32 229 90403

Carine Jeukenne +32 229 97873

Thursday 3 December: Entry into force of the Rail passenger rights regulation

The News

Following the strengthening of passenger rights in the air transport sector, the European Commission turned its attention the protection of rail passengers' rights. This was ensured with the adoption of a set of basic rights for rail passengers, adopted on 23 October 2007 - EU Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007. Rail passenger’s rights and obligations come into force on 3 December 2009 in all EU Member States.

The background:

The Regulation lays down a set of basic rights, which can not form the object of derogation by Member States, plus other rights which under certain conditions can form the object of derogations, and rules on the enforcement of such rights.

Passenger rights which can not be derogated concern:

  • availability of tickets, through tickets and reservations, via ticket offices or selling machines; telephone, the internet or any other widely available information technology or on board trains;

  • liability of railway companies for passengers and their luggage, to be established in accordance with the Convention;

  • insurance in case of liability for passengers and minimum amount of insurance for railway undertakings;

  • non discriminatory access rules for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility and information to be provided to such persons;

  • obligation on railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and station managers.

The additional set of rights, which may be the object of derogations by Member States, in particular in case of urban, suburban, regional and domestic rail passenger services, concern:

  • conditions governing the conclusion and performance of the rail transport contract;

  • the carriage of bicycles on trains;

  • minimum information to be provided to passengers before and during the journey;

  • the "Computerized Information and Reservation System for Rail Transport" (CIRST), a telematic application containing information according to a common standardized format about rail services offered by each railway company;

  • right to advance payments in case of death or injury to passengers, (minimum 21.000 EUR in the event of death) to meet the immediate economic needs in case of accidents;

  • liability for delays, missed connections and cancellations:

The regulation sets also rules for reimbursement in case of delays in the arrival or departure at the final destination of more than 60 minutes.

Concerning the overall implementation of the Regulation and the effective protection of the passengers' rights (the "core" and the 'additional' ones) it pursues:

  • each railway undertaking should put in place a complaint handling mechanism.

  • each Member State should designate the national enforcement body 'NEB', in charge of the supervision of the compliance with the rules of the Regulation, and set penalties applicable in case of infringements of the provisions of the Regulation.

The event:

11.15h: Press conference by Vice-president Tajani with the participation of the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), The European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Passengers’ Federation (EPF) Berlaymont press room, Brussels

IP, MEMO, leaflet

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

European Commission websites:

The contacts:

Fabio Pirotta +32 229 67284

Andrea Maresi +32 229 90403

Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 December: Council decides fishing possibilities for 2010 on the Commission's proposal

The news:

Fisheries Ministers at Council will debate and adopt annual fishing possibilities for 2010, based on the Commission's proposal tabled on 16 October.

This proposal covers the main commercial stocks in the Atlantic, including the North Sea. The fishing opportunities decided by Council will apply from 1 January 2010.

The background:

The Commission's proposal is based on scientific advice from STECF, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, and ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, and follows the principles already set out in the Commission's Communication "Consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2010" published in May.

Although there are some improvements in 2009, most fish stocks in the areas concerned continue to be overfished, and for these the Commission is proposing less fishing in the short term to allow stocks to rebuild. The Commission is also proposing a zero targeted catch for certain shark species, and to keep the Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery closed until the state of the stock can be assessed in spring 2010. The cod recovery plan was revised last year and a new, more flexible system to limit fishing effort in cod fisheries based on kilowatt-days, rather than days-at-sea, was also being introduced. The levels of effort will need to be adjusted according to the plan.

Contrary to previous years, and as a consequence of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the annual fishing opportunities Regulation can no longer contain certain technical measures. Therefore, a transitional regulation was adopted at the November Council, which extends for 18 months some key technical measures from the 2009 fishing opportunities Regulation and notably extends the high-grading ban to cover all EU waters in an effort to reduce discards.

The legislative process for the adoption of a new and streamlined Council Regulation on technical measures for the Atlantic and North Sea, as proposed by the Commission in 2007, will continue with the Council and Parliament under co-decision during 2010.

The event:

Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting and joint Commission/presidency press conference following political agreement, Council Press room, Justus Lipsius building, Brussels.

The sources:

IP/09/1538 - Fisheries: Commission proposal for Total Allowable Catches for 2010

I P/09/747 - Commission opens the discussion on fishing possibilities for 2010

Commissioner Borg's website:

The contacts:

Nathalie Charbonneau +32 2 296 3763

Lone Mikkelsen +32 2 296 0567

Wednesday 16 December: Designation of the first Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), in Budapest

The news:

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will designate its first two or three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) in the evening of 16 December 2009 in Budapest.

The background:

The selection of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities is the next crucial step towards a fully operational EIT. The EIT is a European flagship initiative which aims to foster innovation by bringing together higher education, research and business enterprise, thereby helping to make Europe a true knowledge economy and create sustainable growth and jobs.

The KICs are the autonomous operational base of the EIT. For the first time in Europe, top-class businesses, research centres and higher education institutions will be brought together to form highly integrated, excellence-driven partnerships, accumulating the necessary critical mass for excellence in innovation. People within a KIC will work together in co-location centres, generating a fertile breeding ground for innovative ideas and creating attractive and stimulating work environments for students, researchers and entrepreneurs.

The first call for KICs, launched on 2 April 2009, addresses three priority areas that are major societal challenges: climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable energy and the future information and communication society.

In total, 20 proposals were submitted across the three priority areas by the deadline of 27 August 2009. The proposals were evaluated by independent experts who put forward the top two proposals from each priority area. The EIT Governing Board will take the final decision following hearings with the six shortlisted candidates on 16 December in Budapest. Finally, two or three KICs will be designated based on the excellence of the proposals and partnerships.

The event:

Thursday 17 December

11.15: Press conference in Berlaymont via live, interactive video link from Budapest, Hungary, with Martin Schuurmans, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the EIT, and representatives of the winning KICs (in Budapest), and Commissioner Šefčovič (in Brussels). (Time and place to be confirmed).

  • Available on Ebs

The sources:

European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT):

Commissioner Ševčovič's web site:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08

Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 December: Create. Innovate. Grow- Closing Conference of European Year of Creativity and Innovation

The News

The closing conference of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation will be held in Stockholm under the auspices of the Swedish presidency of the European Union and will highlight good examples of what has happened within the EU during the Year of Creativity and Innovation.

The conference will also offer a meeting place for policy-makers active in these fields beyond 2009. It aims to encourage continued and strengthened work within different sectors and beyond traditional sector boundaries at different levels of decision-making.

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 key factors for personal, social and economic development.

The closing conference will highlight successful examples of innovative projects and activities presented at various conferences and seminars across Europe during the year, and will offer a forum for policy-makers and stakeholders to share and reflect on experiences related to enhancing creativity and innovation.

The event:

Closing Conference of European Year of Creativity and Innovation

Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm, Sweden


  • Maud Olofsson, Minister for Enterprise and Energy

  • Maroš Šefčovič, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth

  • Tobias Krantz, Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research

Ambassadors of the European Year present:

  • Leonel  Moura (PT), Conceptual artist

  • Ernõ  Rubik (HU), Professor, architect, designer

  • Karlheinz  Brandenburg (DE), Professor, researcher in information and communication technology

  • Damini  Kumar (IE), Designer and inventor

  • Dominique  Langevin (FR), Professor, physicist

  • Edward de Bono (MT), Author and international speaker on creativity and lateral thinking

The sources:

Website of the Creativity and Innovation 2009:

Swedish presidency web site:

Home page Europa:

The contacts:

John R. Macdonald +32 2 295 52 67

Sophie Andersson +32 2 295 02 08

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