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EXME06 / 22.12

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication

22 / 12 / 06

As fireworks will soon again light up the skies to celebrate the new year, important steps have been taken to create better safety and more competitive markets as of 2010 for so called pyrotechnic articles. The European Parliament and the Member States have recently agreed upon proposals from the European Commission for a clear set of common rules to enhance safer usage and a true single market for pyrotechnic articles throughout the EU. Fireworks can be a major risk for consumers and injuries can result from the misuse of fireworks, but there is also concern about the quality and safety of some products. Rules governing the sales of pyrotechnic articles vary across Member States. This makes it more difficult to address safety concerns and hampers the activities of manufacturers. The Member States are expected to finally adopt the new Directive on pyrotechnic articles soon.

  • The EU's Seventh Framework programme gets underway

42 calls for proposal are launched today, getting the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme for 2007-2013 underway. The calls represent more than €4b of research funding and are in areas such as health, environment, IT and energy, as well as support to developing regional aspects of research and international co-operation. Proposals are being sought for the human resource aspects of the programme, encouraging researchers to move within Europe and outside to carry out their research and enhancing the career of researcher within Europe. Researchers who gained their PhD within the last 10 years will be able to apply for funding from the European Research Council, a new funding scheme created in the Seventh Framework Programme to enhance Europe's frontier research. All the calls for proposal can be found at: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/calls/

The European Commission has launched a call for evidence on a review of the regulatory framework concerning commodity and exotic derivatives business. MiFID and the recast CAD require a review the regulation of the commodity derivatives business The call for evidence relates to a report that the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament have asked the Commission to make by the end of April 2008. All interested stakeholders, including industry and individuals, are encouraged to reply. The closing date is 30 April 2007.

The European Commission is taking five Member States to the European Court of Justice for a failing to put into practice the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). The re-use of PSI has enormous economic potential as it represents a raw material for new added value services and products worth from €10-48 billion in the EU alone.

The annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) concluded last week in Apia, Samoa, with agreements on a range of important new conservation and control measures, several of them based on proposals by the European Union. In particular, the WCPFC adopted a range of monitoring and control measures which will make a substantial contribution to conserving fish stocks in the region. Key among these was an EU proposal to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. WCPFC will in future formally blacklist IUU vessels, which is crucial for tracking down and eliminating IUU activities. As a result, all Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) managing tuna and tuna like species now have such measures in place, thus closing a gap in the global management of tuna resources.

Today the European Commission tabled a proposal for a Council Regulation adopting the new bilateral agreement between the European Union and the Russian Federation on co-operation in fisheries and the conservation of the living marine resources in the Baltic Sea. This new agreement, which covers an initial period of six years, sets out provisions on joint management measures for Baltic Sea fisheries. A new framework became necessary as, following the 2004 EU enlargement, the membership of the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission was reduced to two Contracting Parties: the EU and Russia. The new agreement was initialled in August this year and will enter into force upon signature by the Parties.

The European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and Mozambique yesterday initialled a Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) for a period of 5 years, which will become effective on 1 January 2007. This Fisheries Agreement will replace the current Agreement, which has been in force since 2004. The Protocol attached to this FPA provides fishing opportunities on tuna and related species in Mozambique waters. In return, the annual EU financial contribution will be € 900 000, fully earmarked for support to the implementation of the Mozambican fisheries policy. In addition to the financial contribution from the Union a payment of more than € 300 000 is expected from ship owners in the form of licence fees..

  • Commission clears acquisition of Sitel by Onex

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Sitel Corporation (Sitel) of the US by Onex Corporation (Onex) of Canada, through its subsidiary ClientLogic Corporation (ClientLogic) of Canada. Onex is active in the acquisition, administration and divestment of undertakings in a wide range of markets. ClientLogic and Sitel both provides business process outsourcing (BPO) services, such as call centres, in the customer care services industry. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Nordkalk by Ahlström Capital and Rettig Capital

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Nordkalk Oyj (Nordkalk) of Finland by Ahlström Capital Oy (Ahlström Capital) and Rettig Capital Oy (Rettig Capital), both of Finland. Ahlström Capital and Rettig Capital are investment fund companies. Nordkalk manufactures limestone-based products. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

The European Commission has proposed to harmonise the rules for the transport of dangerous goods by making them as user-friendly as possible. The new proposal integrates the existing rules into one piece of EU law, which covers all three land transport modes: road, rail and inland waterway. It contributes thereby to the Commission's strategic objective of legislative simplification. Simpler rules also mean safer transport.

  • Stopping rogue traders: EU consumer protection cooperation network starts work

A new EU network for co-ordinated action against cross-border scams and rogue traders comes into operation on 29 December 2006. With the EU Internal Market growing in scope and size, and the development of new technologies, there has been a rise in dishonest traders exploiting new opportunities across Europe. Recent examples of cross-border scams include misleading and threatening clairvoyance services, deceptive prize draws, unsolicited first aid kits with demands for payment, direct marketing of slimming products to children and misleading marketing by ‘holidays clubs’. To stop such practices and to protect consumers from being conned or cheated, the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation was adopted in 2004. This foresaw the creation of an EU-wide network of enforcement authorities, which would remove barriers to information exchange and empower national officials to work more closely with their counterparts in other Member States. This network, which now starts formal operations, aims to ensure more rapid and coordinated action against cross-border criminal practices and scams. It is a step forward in protecting the interests of consumers across the EU-27 and stopping the abuse of the freedoms of the Internal Market. Further information: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/prot_rules/admin_coop/index_en.htm.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Münchsmünster Cracker and associated assets located in Germany by Basell of Germany, owned by the Access Industries group of the US. The Commission concluded that the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the Indian steel producer Tata Steel of Corus Group plc, a manufacturer of carbon steel and aluminium products based in Europe. The Commission’s investigation has found that the proposed transaction would not impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it, as the parties activities only overlap to a limited extent..

  • October 2006 compared to September 2006 - Industrial new orders down by 0.6% in euro area - EU25 up by 0.2%

The euro area industrial new orders index dropped by 0.6% in October 2006 compared to September 2006. The index fell by 1.4% in September and rose by 3.8% in August. EU25 new orders gained 0.2% in October 2006, after a decrease of 1.0% in September and an increase of 2.7% in August. Excluding ships, railway and aerospace equipment industrial new orders rose by 1.0% in the euro area and by 0.7% in the EU25 in October 2006. In October 2006 compared to October 2005, industrial new orders increased by 12.5% in both zones. Total industry excluding ships, railway and aerospace equipment grew by 12.6% in the euro area and by 11.2% in the EU25. These estimates are released by Eurostat.

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