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Brussels, Friday 4 May 2012
Top News from the European Commission
Background notes from the Spokespersons' service for journalists.
Monday 7 May to Tuesday 8 May: Informal Roundtable – Follow-up to the Durban climate negotiations with representatives of small island states, least developed countries and countries from Latin America 2
Tuesday 8 May: Product safety – Presentation of the annual report on Rapex, the rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products 3
Tuesday 8 May: Commission launches State Aid Modernisation 5
Wednesday 9 May: Europe Day 2012 – 62nd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration 6
Friday 11 May: Spring 2012 Economic Forecast 8
Saturday 12 May: Open Door Day of the European Institutions - Growing Stronger together 9
Tuesday 15 May: Adoption of the 2012 European Neighbourhood Policy Package 10
Sunday 20 – Monday 21 May: 'European Rendezvous', Cannes International Film Festival 12
Wednesday 23 May (tbc): Report on EU's bathing water quality 14
Wednesday 30 May: Commission presents its 2012 Country-Specific Recommendations and conclusions of in-depth reviews 15
Date to be confirmed: Commission adopts proposed Regulation on eID and eSignature 17
Monday 7 May to Tuesday 8 May: Informal Roundtable – Follow-up to the Durban climate negotiations with representatives of small island states, least developed countries and countries from Latin America
With the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has invited ministers from AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and a number of Latin American countries to Brussels on 7-8 May. This Informal Roundtable will build on the outcome of the 2011 Durban climate negotiations and explore further steps for cooperation. The ministers will also meet with EU Commissioners for Environment, Janez Potočnik and for Development, Andris Piebalgs to identify potential common priorities and goals for Rio+20.
The UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban in November/December 2011 provided an important breakthrough in the international climate talks. This success was only possible through the determined efforts by an important group of countries, including the European Union, AOSIS, LDCs and a number of Latin American countries.
The continued cooperation of this group will be essential to ensure success in international talks, ranging from UNFCCC climate talks to the upcoming Rio+20 conference on 20-22 June.
This is why the European Commission has invited a group of countries, including LDCs, AOSIS and countries from Latin America to discuss potential 'next steps', and how the existing cooperation can be strengthened.
Informal Roundtable with AOSIS countries, LDCs as well as like-minded countries from Latin America on climate negotiations and Rio+20, which will aim to establish a roadmap towards a global inclusive green economy and the institutional framework to achieve this.
A VIP corner with Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will take place on Monday 7th May at 17h20.
Website of Commissioner Hedegaard:
Twitter of Commissioner Hedegaard:
Isaac Valero-Ladron +32 2 296 4971 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Rhomberg +32 2 298 7278 email@example.com
Tuesday 8 May: Product safety – Presentation of the annual report on Rapex, the rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products
On 08 May, Commissioner John Dalli will present the key findings of the 2011 annual report published on that day concerning Rapex, the EU-wide rapid alert system for dangerous products. The findings of the report will include the trends in the number of products notified thanks to the system, the top product categories, the most active member states notifying unsafe products, and the countries of origin.
What: Press Conference with John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy
Directly following the press conference, the Commissioner will visit the exhibition on product safety outside the press room, and will be able to answer further questions. Commission experts as well as representatives of national authorities and industry associations will be present to show products and testing equipment.
When: Tuesday 08 May, at 13.00
Where: Berlaymont Press Room, in Brussels
IP and MEMO will be available on the day
RAPEX is a Community rapid alert system for dangerous products. It ensures that information about dangerous products withdrawn from the EU market and/or recalled from consumers is quickly circulated between Member States and the European Commission, with the aim of preventing or restricting the selling of these products on the market. 30 countries currently participate in the system. The participating countries are all the European Union countries and the EFTA/EEA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Both preventive and restrictive measures ordered by national authorities and measures taken voluntarily by producers and distributors are covered by RAPEX. The most common measures are a ban/stop on sales, withdrawal of a dangerous product from the market, providing information to consumers about the risks related to the use of the product, or recall of a dangerous product from consumers.
On 1 January 2010, the scope of RAPEX was extended to cover also 'non-consumer' products and risks to other public interests than 'health and safety of consumers'. RAPEX applies now to both 'consumer' and 'non-consumer' products (for instance, a power drill, a lamp, a cosmetic or a toy). The RAPEX system covers the majority of products, but certain categories of products are excluded from its scope. For example, for food and feed, a specific alert system (RASFF), similar to RAPEX, is in place. Specific systems are in place also for medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
Commissioner John Dalli's website:
Frédéric Vincent: +32 2 298 71 66 Frederic.Vincent@ec.europa.eu
Aikaterini Apostola: +32 2 298 76 24 Aikaterini.Apostola@ec.europa.eu
Tuesday 8 May: Commission launches State Aid Modernisation
On 8 May, the European Commission will adopt a Communication on State Aid Modernisation. The aim is to inform about the objectives of this integrated strategy, its key components - a variety of state aid instruments which are closely interlinked - and the adoption timetable. The main objectives are fostering growth in the internal market by supporting targeted and non-distortive state aid, focusing enforcement on aid cases with the biggest impact on the internal market, as well as streamlined rules and faster decisions.
The Commission believes that a more focused state aid framework will allow Member States to better contribute both to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, as well as to budgetary consolidation.
On 8 May, the Commission will adopt a Communication "State Aid Modernisation" and organize a press conference at 12.30 at the Berlaymont press room in Brussels.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
The Communication will be made available on:
Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's website:
Antoine Colombani: +32 2 297 4513 firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Madrid: +32 2 295 4530 email@example.com
Wednesday 9 May: Europe Day 2012 – 62nd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration
On 9 May 2012 Europe will celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
Sixty-two years ago, on 9 May 1950, the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman made the first move towards the creation of what we now know as the European Union. He read a declaration to the international press in Paris, calling on France, Germany and other European countries to pool their coal and steel production as "the first concrete foundation of a European federation". It is remarkable that only five years after the end of the most dreadful conflict in Europe, the Second World War, he proposed the creation of a supranational European institution, to take charge of the coal and steel industry, the very sector which had made the war possible. The countries which he called upon had almost destroyed each other, and reconciliation was a brave thing to imagine at that time.
9 May became Europe Day in 1985, with many public manifestations in Member States to celebrate European achievements.
Members of the Commission will take part in events across Europe:
President Barroso and Commissioners Oettinger and Andor will participate in the 15th WDR Europaforum, a high-level conference of European leaders and media representatives which this year is held in the European Parliament in Brussels, in cooperation with the European Parliament, the European Commission and other partners.
President Barroso, Vice-President Rehn and Commissioner Barnier will attend the "State of the Union" second annual conference for high-level reflection on the EU, organised by the European University Institute in Florence.
Video messages by High Representative / Vice-President Ashton and Commissioner Füle recorded for delegations will be posted on their websites and used for the local events.
On the occasion of Europe Day Vice-President Reding will launch the broadest ever public consultation in the history of the European Union so that EU citizens can express views on their rights and future visions of Europe. A video message and a press release will be published on the day.
Vice-President Kallas will attend the Europe Day ceremony at the Brussels Town Hall.
Vice-President Kroes will deliver a speech at Europeana Awareness Event “Culture for Digital Innovation” (Concert Noble).
Vice-President Tajani will celebrate Europe Day in Rome where he will attend the event "Restart Europe focusing on creativity and entrepreneurial spirit" at the LUISS Guido Carli University. He will deliver a speech followed by a discussion with students on the ways in which new generations, through a more intense relationship between education, training and business, can contribute to growth and competitiveness in Europe.
Commissioner Vassiliou will take part in conference in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish EU Presidency, to celebrate Europe Day and the 25th anniversary of the Erasmus student exchange and job placement programme.
Commissioner Georgieva will join Europe's Day celebrations in Sofia, Bulgaria. She will attend the opening of the "Days of European cinema" festival, which will show one film from each of the European Union's Member States with support from the European Commission's MEDIA Programme.
Commissioner Hahn will celebrate Europe Day in Austria, where he will hold a speech at the conference on Europe organised by the Austrian Bundesrat and the Region of Steiermark (Graz). He will also participate, together with the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Werner Faymann, in the Europe Day celebrations organised by the Commission Representation in Austria (Vienna).
Commissioner Malmström will visit her hometown Göteborg, Sweden, where she will deliver a speech to city employees about the importance of EU engagement at local level. She will also attend a public Europe Day event in the Göteborg city centre and meet students at Angered high school.
President Barroso's website:
"State of the Union" second annual conference for high-level reflection on the EU:
Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen +32 2 295 3070 firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 11 May: Spring 2012 Economic Forecast
The Commission publishes its spring economic forecast for 2012-2013 for Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, employment and public finances, amongst other indicators, for all 27 European Union countries, plus the EU and euro area aggregates.
The Commission publishes economic forecasts four times a year: two comprehensive exercises in spring and autumn, plus two other exercises in between – the interim forecasts – on GDP growth and inflation.
In the last exercise, the EU interim forecast of 23 February, the Commission announced that the euro area was in mild recession with signs of stabilisation. It also announced that the unexpected stalling of the recovery in late 2011 was set to extend into the first two quarters of 2012. However, modest growth was predicted to return in the second half of the year.
Press Conference with Vice-President Olli Rehn in the Berlaymont press room in Brussels at 11h00 hrs.
IP and economic forecast available on the day.
IP/12/163 – February 2012 EU Interim Forecast
European Commission websites:
Amadeu Altafaj Tardio + 32 2 295 2658 email@example.com
Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824 firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607 email@example.com
Saturday 12 May: Open Door Day of the European Institutions - Growing Stronger together
On May 12, 2012, the Berlaymont building – the heart of the European Commission – opens its doors from 10 am until 6 pm.
You will discover in a concrete, interactive and entertaining manner, the main achievements of the European Union during the past months: from the European growth strategy to measures to ensure stability in the euro area; from support to farmers to the importance of food security; from the prohibition of inflammable toys to the fight against counterfeit cigarettes; from the importance of multilingualism to the constant need for new translators, from the means available for job creation to investments which improve our quality of life; and from research in health areas to the fight against cybercrime.
There will also be guided visits of the room where the Commissioners hold their meetings on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont.
A whole range of activities for adults and children will be organised by the Commission throughout the day on the esplanade in front of the Berlaymont: an exhibition on "the cost of non-Europe – Growing stronger together", a photo's exhibition "1 to 100 years", shows by young Flemish flag throwers…
All day long, a podium will schedule musical groups and singers: Swing à Jo, Foreign Affairs, Bossa Flor, Indecision, Xamanek, and a "Suarez and Friends" musical show will closed the festivities at 17.30.
Festival of Europe: European Institutions Open Day
Festival of Europe website:
Mina Andreeva +32 2 299 1382 Mina.Andreeva@ec.europa.eu
Natasha Bertaud +32 2 296 7456 Natasha.Bertaud@ec.europa.eu
Tuesday 15 May: Adoption of the 2012 European Neighbourhood Policy Package
On 15 May the 2012 European Neighbourhood Policy Package will be adopted. This year's Package consists of a Joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative and twelve Country Progress Reports assessing the implementation of the ENP in 2011 in the twelve neighbouring countries with which an ENP Action Plan or an equivalent document has been agreed; two regional progress reports reviewing the progress made in 2011 in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership and the Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity; and a Statistical Annex.
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its neighbours, aiming instead to increase the prosperity, stability and security of all.
In May 2011 the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission put forward a new policy response to a changing EU neighbourhood based on "more for more", mutual accountability and a shared commitment to the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law and involving a much higher level of differentiation. In this way the EU responded to the Arab Spring and sent a clear message of solidarity and support to the peoples of the Southern Mediterranean It also responded to EU Eastern Neighbours’ efforts towards closer political association and deeper economic integration. A year on, the High Representative and the Commission will present an assessment of the first year of implementation of the new approach.
The ENP framework is proposed to 16 of the EU's closest neighbours – Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Press Conference by High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Stefan Füle (time to be confirmed).
1 IP, 16 MEMOS and the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and Council will be available on the day.
For information ENP please see:
The document of the Communication will be made available on:
European External Action Service website:
Commissioner Štefan Füle's website:
Peter Stano +32 2 295 74 84 Peter.Stano@ec.europa.eu
Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80 Michael.Mann@ec.europa.eu
Maja Kocijancic +32 2 298 65 70 Maja.Kocijancic@ec.europa.eu
Anca Paduraru +32 229 66430 Anca.Paduraru@ec.europa.eu
Sebastien Brabant +32 229 86433 Sebastien.Brabant@ec.europa.eu
Sunday 20 – Monday 21 May: 'European Rendezvous', Cannes International Film Festival
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will award the first 'Prix MEDIA' to the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (IP/12/353) at the Cannes Film Festival on 20 May during the traditional Cannes 'European Rendezvous', which highlights the impact of the EU's MEDIA programme on European film-making.
Since 1991, MEDIA has invested more than €1.5 billion in support of film development, distribution, training and innovation, with the aim of increasing diversity and the international competitiveness of Europe's cinema and audiovisual industry. This year, MEDIA is supporting 18 films at Cannes by both new and well-known directors including Michael Haneke, Ken Loach, Léos Carax and Cristian Mungiu.
On 20 May, Commissioner Vassiliou will climb the famous red carpet and stairs to attend the screening of one of the European films selected in the official competition for the Palme d'Or.
On 21 May, the Commissioner and Festival President Gilles Jacob will host a public conference on the Commission's proposed 'Creative Europe' programme, which envisages a significant increase in EU funding for cinema and culture in 2014-2020. Investment in the cultural and creative sectors is seen as key in overcoming the crisis because of their economic weight and potential – the sectors currently contribute up to 4.5% of EU GDP and employ 8.5 million people in Europe. .
On 22 May, the Commission will also organise an event with representatives of national and regional film funds from inside and outside the EU to discuss new financial instruments to support the film industry.
European films supported by the MEDIA Programme are frequently selected for the Cannes Film Festival's official competition and several have won prizes including the Palme d'Or.
Every year, the European Commission supports more than a hundred festivals across Europe through the MEDIA programme. The Commission will have a MEDIA stand at Cannes, which enables smaller independent companies to have access to the international market.
The MEDIA programme is providing €755 million in support to Europe's film industry in 2007-2013. Under 'Creative Europe', the Commission has proposed that support for MEDIA should be increased to more than € 900 million in 2014-2020.
65th Cannes International Film Festival, 16-27 May
Sunday 20th May:
11h30: Presentation of 'Prix MEDIA' at "Café des Palmes"
Monday 21st May:
10h30-12h00: Commissioner Vassiliou meets European film directors for discussions on 'Creative Europe' (closed event);
15:30-17:30: Public Conference on 'Creative Europe' in the Press room of the Palais des Festivals.
European Commission's website on the MEDIA Programme:
Cannes Film festival:
Commissioner Vassiliou's website:
Dennis Abbott: +32.2.295.92.58 Dennis.Abbott@ec.europa.eu
Dina Avraam: +32 2 295 96 67 Dina.Avraam@ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 23 May (tbc): Report on EU's bathing water quality
On 23 May, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and European Commission will publish their annual report on bathing water. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the quality of bathing water in EU Member States throughout the 2011 bathing season, so swimmers can find areas where water quality is expected to be good during 2012.
Bathing water in Europe needs to comply with standards set in the EU's 2006 Bathing Water Directive. This report brings together water quality data from more than 22,000 designated bathing waters across Europe, approximately 70 % of them coastal sites and the remainder inland. Sites are classified as compliant with mandatory EU values, compliant with the more stringent guide values, or non-compliant.
A report on bathing water quality in all 27 EU Member States will be released, with printed versions in English, French and German. Individual Member State reports will also be available in English, on the Internet.
IP and report will be available on the day.
For more information on EU Bathing water policy:
The report will be made available at:
Joe Hennon: +32 2 292 15 48 Joseph.Hennon@ec.europa.eu
Monica Westeren: +32 2 295 06 68 Monica.Westeren@ext.ec.europa.eu
Wednesday 30 May: Commission presents its 2012 Country-Specific Recommendations and conclusions of in-depth reviews
On 30 May, the European Commission will adopt its second annual set of policy recommendations to the 27 Member States, and to the euro area as a whole. The recommendations are based on a detailed assessment of the economic, employment and budgetary situation and policies in each country. Where required, the Commission will spell out further budgetary steps, structural reforms and growth-enhancing measures which Member States should adopt over the following 12 months. The recommendations are to be endorsed by the European Council on 28-29 June and formally adopted by the Council in July.
At the same time, the Commission will present the results of the in-depth reviews of 12 Member States which it has been carrying out in the context of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure.
The presentation of the Country-Specific Recommendations is a key moment in the 'European Semester' of economic policy coordination., Taking the EU's growth strategy (called Europe 2020) as a starting point, the Commission sets out every year Europe's economic policy priorities (in the so-called "Annual Growth Survey"). The priorities presented in the 2012 Annual Growth Survey, adopted on 23 November 2011, were endorsed by the European Council on 1 March 2012. On that basis, the Member States submitted in April their medium-term budgetary plans (called Stability Programmes for euro area countries, Convergence Programmes for other Member States) and the structural reform measures planned for the following 12 months (National Reform Programmes). The Country-Specific Recommendations are the Commission's response to these.
The presentation of the results of the in-depth reviews of 12 Member States is the next step in the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure, following the Alert Mechanism report on 14 February. The Alert Mechanism Report concluded that the macroeconomic situation in Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK merited further investigation with a view to assessing the presence of specific imbalances. Where necessary, the Commission will also issue recommendations to take appropriate preventive or corrective action to address these.
The Commission will adopt 28 sets of proposed recommendations at its meeting on 30 May, as well as the results of 12 in-depth reviews and potential associated recommendations. The key messages will be presented at a press conference the same day.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day, along with the text of the Communication adopted by the Commission, the 28 sets of recommendations and 28 Commission staff working documents containing the detailed analysis for each Member State and for the euro area as a whole, plus the outcomes of the 12 in-depth reviews.
Europe 2020 website:
2011 country-specific recommendations and staff working documents:
2012 National Reform Programmes and Stability or Convergence Programmes:
2011 Alert Mechanism Report:
Olivier Bailly: +32 2 296 87 17 Olivier.Bailly@ec.europa.eu
Simon O'Connor: +32 2 296 73 59 Simon.O'Connor@ec.europa.eu
Amadeu Altafaj Tardio + 32 2 295 2658 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824 email@example.com
Audrey Augier + 32 2 297 1607 firstname.lastname@example.org
Date to be confirmed: Commission adopts proposed Regulation on eID and eSignature
The European Commission will adopt a draft Regulation aimed at ensuring cross-border legal recognition of electronic IDs, eSignatures and other electronic Authentication services in Europe (eIAS), as foreseen in the Digital Agenda for Europe. The measures will enhance trust in pan-European electronic transactions and enable electronic identification, authentication, signature and related trust services, as well as a high level of data protection and user empowerment in the Single Market.
The draft Regulation will contain a review of the existing eSignature Directive to ensure harmonised application and simplification, in order to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions. The scope of the current Directive will be widened and will include mutual recognition of eIDs, so that all Member States recognise and accept all formally notified eIDs from other EU Member States.
Revising the current directive was one of the twelve key actions to unlock growth set out by the Commission in the Single Market Act (see IP/11/469) one year ago. Eleven of those proposals are already with the Council and the European Parliament and the set will be completed on adoption of this proposal.
Technical briefing in Berlaymont press room.
IP and MEMO will be available on the day.
Current eSignature directive
Neelie Kroes' website
Ryan Heath: +32 2 296 17 16 email@example.com
Linda Cain: +32 2 299 90 19 firstname.lastname@example.org