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Midday Express of 2009-01-20

European Commission - MEX/09/0120   20/01/2009

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EXME09 / 20.01

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

20 / 01 / 09

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, is to travel to Gaza and Israel later this week on a two-day humanitarian mission amid the current ceasefires.

As European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner visits Georgia on 20th January, the European Commission's post-crisis support for Georgia has reached nearly €120 million. The Commissioner will be announcing the latest release of funds (€61.5 million) to the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili during her trip. One of the main aims of this funding is to answer the needs and help the resettlement of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) resulting from the conflicts in Georgia in the 1990s and August 2008. During her visit the Commissioner will be meeting some of those who have had to leave their homes at an IDP centre in Tbilisi which has been refurbished with Commission funds. The funds form part of the ‘Growth and Stabilisation Package for Georgia’ of up to €500 million covering the period 2008-2010, that was pledged by the European Commission after last summer's conflict.

  • Commission, banks and small businesses discuss improving access to loans

At a round table tomorrow, Vice-President Günter Verheugen will discuss with leading banking and business organisations how to further help to ensure a continuous flow of funding to enterprises, especially small and medium-sized ones (SMEs) in the current difficult economic circumstances. At EU level new initiatives have been put in place in addition to existing instruments such as the €30 billion loan package from the European Investment Bank (EIB)), the various initiatives contained in the Economic Recovery Plan and the temporary adaptation of the State Aid framework. Businesses will be represented by BusinessEurope, Eurochambres and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME). The participating banking organisations are the European Association of Cooperative Banks (EACB), the European Banking Federation (EBF) and the European Savings Bank Group (ESBG). Mrs. Herzog, MEP and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) will also take part. Invited as observers are the Network of European Financial Institutions (NEFI), the European Association of Public banks (EAPB), the European Association of Mutual Guarantee Societies (AECM), the European Association of Development Agencies (EURADA) and the Federation of European Accountants (FEE). Further information about the previous round tables: www.ec.europa.eu/enterprise/entrepreneurship/financing/round_table.htm More information about EU programmes for SMEs: www.ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sme/funding_en.htm More information about EIB lending: www.eib.europa.eu

Rediffusion

The mitigation measures undertaken by EU companies and Member States have allowed most countries to successfully manage the situation in a way which is the least disruptive for their consumers. Bulgaria remains the worst affected country but some measures have been proposed to bring gas from Greece to Bulgaria.

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by Avnet of the US of Abacus of the UK. Both companies are electronic components distributors. The investigation has shown that the concentration would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

  • Statement of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner ahead of Foreign Ministers meetings with Israel and Arab counterparts

"I welcome the calm that thanks to the announcement by Hamas of a ceasefire following Israel's unilateral ceasefire declaration will finally allow our aid partners to alleviate the suffering of the population after so many days of distress. I call on all the parties to facilitate movement and access of humanitarian staff and goods at this critical moment including through the opening of the crossings." The Commission, as main donor in Palestine, will continue to work closely with partners to address the most immediate needs of the population in Gaza in the weeks and months to come. Assessment missions by aid agencies are already on the ground and the Commission will liaise closely with them and in parallel proceed to undertake its own assessment with a view to prepare efforts of the donor community in the coming weeks to address the most pressing needs of the population. The reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure will only be addressed at a later stage, when the political conditions are in place to guarantee a more stable environment.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Speech by Vice-President Kallas 'Towards an interinstitutional agreement on the concept of tolerable risk of error in Community programmes', Brussels

A disposition au secrétariat de Jonathan Todd (BERL 03/315):

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

Citi Infrastructure Partners, L.P. / Itínere Infraestructuras, S.A


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