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Brussels, Friday 17 February 2012

Top News from the European Commission
18 February – 16 March 2012

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

Tuesday 21 February: President of the European Commission receives the Prime Minister of Somalia 2

Thursday 23 February: High Representative/Vice-President Ashton, Commissioner Piebalgs and Commissioner Georgieva in London for International Conference on Somalia 2

Thursday 23 February: Interim Economic Forecast 4

Monday 27 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package 5

Wednesday 7 March: Commission proposes a Regulation on Central Securities Depositories 6

Tuesday 21 February: President of the European Commission receives the Prime Minister of Somalia

Thursday 23 February: High Representative/Vice-President Ashton, Commissioner Piebalgs and Commissioner Georgieva in London for International Conference on Somalia

The news:

On the 21st of February, President Barroso will receive the Prime Minister of Somalia, Mr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, ahead of an International Conference in London, to underline that the European Union is leading the effort to end instability and the suffering in the country. The Prime Minister will also meet with Commissioners Piebalgs and Georgieva.

On the 23rd of February, High Representative/Vice-President Ashton and Commissioners for Development Piebalgs and for Humanitarian Affairs Georgieva will be in London for the International Conference on Somalia. The Conference aims at reinforcing the global response to helping Somalia out of its current crisis. It will bring together Heads of State and government and ministers from more than 40 countries; representatives of the United Nations, African Union, World Bank, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the League of Arab States, among others.

The background:

Decades of violence, poverty, weak governance and recurrent drought have profoundly destabilised Somalia. The EU is the world's biggest donor to Somalia, where it helps address both the current symptoms and root causes of the crisis. In 2011 alone, the EU financed humanitarian aid in Somalia with more than €280 million; meanwhile, long-term development programmes help education, labour market reforms and the rule of law with more than €387 million allocated since 2008.

The EU is one of the biggest donors to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and it is training Somali soldiers in Uganda through the EU Training Mission Somalia, under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It is also fighting piracy at sea through another CSDP operation, EU NAVFOR –Atalanta.

The EU adopted in November 2011 its Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa and recently appointed Alexander Rondos as the EU Special Representative to the Horn of Africa to coordinate the EU's comprehensive approach. Mr. Rondos's first task is to focus on Somalia and the regional dimensions of the conflict, as well as on piracy, which has its root causes in Somalia's instability.

The event:

Monday 20 February: Technical briefing by the EEAS, DG EuropeAid and ECHO – 11h-11h30 in the Council press centre.

Tuesday 21 February: VIP Corner with President of the European Commission and Somalia Prime Minister, Mr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

IP and factsheets on humanitarian assistance, development aid, and EU fight against piracy will be available on 21 February.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

EU Relations with Somalia:

Humanitarian aid:

Development and Cooperation:

Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa:

The contacts:

Michael Mann +32 2 299 97 80

Maja Kocijancic +32 2 298 65 70

Sébastien Brabant +32 2 298 64 33

Catherine Ray +32 2 296 99 21

Wojtek Talko +32 2 297 85 51

David Sharrock +32 2 296 89 09

Irina Novakova +32 2 295 75 17

Thursday 23 February: Interim Economic Forecast

The news:

Due to rapidly changing economic circumstances, the Commission will publish an extended interim economic forecast, updating the outlook for GDP growth and inflation in 2012 for the 27 Member States as well as the EU and Euro-area aggregates. Usually, the interim forecast covers only the 7 biggest Members States and the euro area and EU aggregate forecasts for GDP growth and inflation for the current year.

The background:

The Commission publishes economic forecasts four times a year. The Spring and Autumn forecasts are comprehensive exercises for all EU countries and cover a variety of indicators from growth, inflation and employment to public budget deficits and debts. The interim forecasts published in between, in February and September, are lighter exercises, but representative nevertheless. The last Autumn Economic Forecast was presented by Vice-President Rehn on 10 November 2011. The next fully-fledged forecast will come out in May 2012.

The event:

11:00 Press Conference by Vice-President Olli Rehn in the Berlaymont Press Room in Brussels. IP and economic forecasts available on the day.

  • Available on EbS

The sources:

The contacts:

Amadeu Altafaj + 32 2 295 2648

Vandna Kalia + 32 2 299 5824

Monday 27 February: The Commission adopts its monthly infringements package

The news:

On Monday 27 February, the European Commission will adopt its monthly infringements package. These decisions cover all Member States and most of EU policies and seek to enforce EU law across Europe in the interest of both citizens and businesses.

The background:

Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) gives the Commission the power to take legal action against a Member State that is not respecting its obligations under EU law.

There are three successive stages: Letter of formal notice, reasoned opinion and referral to the Court of Justice.

If, despite the ruling, a Member State still fails to act, the Commission may open a further infringement case under Article 260 of the TFEU. After only one written warning, Commission may refer a Member State back to the Court and it can propose that the Court imposes financial penalties based on the duration and severity on the infringement and the size of the Member State.

The event:

Several IPs and MEMOs will be available on the day.

The sources:

The IP and MEMO will be made available on the day on Rapid:

The contacts:

Overall coordination: Olivier Bailly: +32 2 296 87 17

On specific infringements, please contact the spokesperson in charge.

Wednesday 7 March: Commission proposes a Regulation on Central Securities Depositories

The news:

On 7 March, the Commission will take another important step in the regulation of the financial sector to meet G20 commitments. It will propose a set of rules targeting a key actor in financial markets: central securities depositories (CSDs). The provisions of the proposal will ensure that the transactions between buyers and sellers of securities will be settled in a safe and timely manner. To achieve this, common standards will be introduced across the Union for securities settlement and the institutions that are responsible for these transactions, i.e. the CSDs. 

The main objectives of the proposal are to:

- increase the safety of settlements, in particular for cross-border transactions, by ensuring that buyers and sellers  receive their securities and money on time and without risks;

- increase the efficiency of settlements, in particular for cross-border transactions, by introducing a true internal market for the operations of national CSDs;

- increase the safety of CSDs by applying high prudential requirements in line with international standards.

The background:

CSDs are systemically important institutions for the financial markets because they operate the infrastructures (so-called securities settlement systems) that enable the settlement of virtually all securities transactions worth over 900 trillion euro per year. Settlement is an important process, which ensures the exchange of securities against cash following a securities transaction (for instance an acquisition or a sale of securities). CSDs also track how many securities have been issued, by whom, and each change in the holding of such securities. Finally, they play a crucial role for the financing of the economy, as almost all the collateral posted by banks to raise funds flows through securities settlement systems operated by CSDs.

While generally safe and efficient within national borders, settlement across borders presents higher risks and costs for investors than domestic operations. For example, cross-border trades do not settle on the intended settlement date far more frequently than domestic trades. Cross-border settlement costs are also up to four times higher than domestic costs. Meanwhile, cross-border transactions in Europe continue to increase.

The proposed Regulation will complete the European regulatory framework for securities markets. There are three main steps in the securities transactions:

Trading – this is regulated by MiFID

Clearing – this will be regulated by EMIR

Settlement – this is not yet regulated.

The event:

IP and MEMO will be available on the day.

The sources:

For more information:

Commissioner Michel Barnier's website:

The contacts:

Chantal Hughes +32 2 296 44 50

Audrey Augier +32 2 297 16 07

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