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Midday Express of 2009-02-26

European Commission - MEX/09/0226   26/02/2009

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EXME09 / 26.02

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

26 / 02 / 09

In the context of the legislative elections in the Republic of Moldova on 5th of April, the European Commission has allocated funds amounting to €3 million for projects to promote and monitor compliance with international standards during the electoral process. The holding of free and fair elections is one of the key commitments of the Republic of Moldova under its European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan with the European Union.

The European Commission, together with the United Nations, is hosting a two-day high level meeting in Brussels from today which aims to boost support for the peace process in Somalia.

In February, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the EU and the euro continued to decline. It fell by 2.2 points in the EU, a much smaller fall than that recorded in January, and by 1.8 points in the euro area, which in contrast was similar to the decline observed in January. The ESIs now stand at 61.0 and 65.4 respectively – the lowest levels since the current series of the indicator was launched in January 1985.

The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area fell significantly in February to yet another low, reaching its lowest point since January 1985. It confirms the expectation that the outcome of the year-on-year industrial production growth for January will be markedly negative, following on from the sharp fall already recorded in December 2008. It also suggests that annual industrial production growth will remain clearly negative in February 2009. The drop in the BCI reflects a general deterioration in most of its underlying components. Managers' assessment of the current overall order books and export order books is increasingly negative. Managers also reported a sharp fall in the production trend observed in recent months, while the stocks of finished goods stabilised – though at a very high level – and production expectations remained broadly stable.

The European Commission has put forward a new proposal which would allow Member States to completely abolish financial reporting obligations for the EU's smallest companies. In a deteriorating economic climate, the new rules are designed to alleviate the regulatory burden on micro entities. The aggregate administrative burden reduction potential is estimated at around € 6.3 billion. The proposal, which was flagged in the European Economic Recovery Plan in November 2008, now passes to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for consideration.

La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd’hui une proposition visant à transposer en droit communautaire le plan pluriannuel révisé de reconstitution des stocks de thon rouge de l’Atlantique Est adopté par la Commission internationale pour la conservation des thonidés de l’Atlantique (CICTA) lors de sa dernière réunion annuelle, tenue à Marrakech, au Maroc, en novembre 2008. Il est important que ce plan soit mis en œuvre par toutes les parties contractantes de la CICTA avant le début de la principale campagne de pêche. Il faut prendre immédiatement des mesures radicales pour assurer l’avenir du stock de thon rouge. Ce plan de reconstitution révisé exige des réductions supplémentaires des niveaux de capture et de la durée des campagnes ainsi qu’une diminution de la capacité de pêche et de la capacité d’élevage. Il témoigne de la gravité de l’état du stock. Le plan révisé définit aussi des mécanismes de contrôle à tous les stades de la chaîne de commercialisation et remédie à de nombreuses lacunes (voir IP/08/1768).

M. Joe Borg, membre de la Commission européenne chargé des affaires maritimes et de la pêche, lance aujourd'hui un débat à l'échelle européenne sur les possibilités d'amélioration de la planification de l'espace maritime dans l'Union. La Commission européenne encourage l'utilisation de la planification de l'espace maritime pour faciliter les investissements en mer. La planification de l'espace maritime permet également de contrôler et d'évaluer l'incidence des activités en mer les unes sur les autres et sur le milieu marin. Elle constitue un outil essentiel pour garantir une utilisation rationnelle de la mer et réconcilier les intérêts des différents secteurs maritimes. La Commission estime qu'une approche commune au niveau de l'Union européenne et une coordination plus étroite entre les États membres pourraient simplifier les procédures administratives et fournir un cadre juridique stable pour les investisseurs.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Li-Tec by Daimler and Evonik

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Li-Tec Vermögensverwaltungs-GmbH (Li-Tec) of Germany by Daimler AG and Evonik Industries AG (Evonik), both of Germany. Daimler develops and manufactures cars and commercial vehicles and provides financial services. Evonik currently solely owns Li-Tec and is active in the chemical industry, energy and real-estate. Li-Tec researches, develops and produces Lithium-ion battery cells and battery management systems. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • BSE: Commission adopts Regulation on environmental contamination of plant feed

The European Commission adopted today a Regulation providing a derogation to the zero-tolerance approach in case of the detection of bone fragments due to environmental contamination of feed materials of plant origin (for example from rabbits or mice). The proposal extends the provision already in place for beet pulp to all feed materials of plant origin. This measure is part of the review of certain BSE provisions as set out in the TSE Roadmap (see IP/05/952) in July 2005 which has been made possible by the improvement in the BSE situation, while maintaining the highest levels of food safety and consumer protection. The Commission took into account the latest scientific knowledge, and discussed this extensively with Member States and the European Parliament. The high level of consumer protection provided by the EU's BSE rules over the past decade will be maintained. The regulation is needed because improvements in laboratory performance have made it possible to detect the adventitious presence of bone fragments, particularly in tuber and root crops due to environmental contamination. Until now, such consignments of contaminated tuber and root crops had to be disposed of because of the zero tolerance for the presence of animal proteins in animal feed. However, it has been demonstrated that contamination of crops of plant origin by bone fragments present in the soil cannot be avoided during harvesting. Therefore the existing derogation for environmental contamination of beet pulp was extended to all crops of plant origin, in particular cereals and forage.

Rediffusion

The European Commission has provided guidance on the treatment of asset relief measures by Member States. Impaired assets correspond to categories of assets on which banks are likely to incur losses (e.g. US sub-prime mortgage backed securities). The Commission considers that a common European approach is presently needed to deal with the treatment of impaired assets, to make sure that foreseeable losses are disclosed and properly handled and banks can use their capital to resume their normal function of lending to the economy instead of fearing they would need this capital to cushion against possible losses. The Commission's Communication outlines various methods to deal with impaired assets, notably through asset purchase (including bad bank scenarios) or asset insurance schemes. It explains the budgetary and regulatory implications of asset relief measures and presents details concerning the application of the State aid rules to such measures. In particular, the guidance provides methodologies concerning the valuation of the impaired assets, the necessary remuneration of the State for the asset relief and the procedural steps that will be followed as well as the criteria that will be used to evaluate the State aid given to the banks as a result.

Today's transfer by the Commission of €1 billion is the first instalment in the medium-term financial assistance to Latvia of up to € 3.1 billion agreed by ECOFIN ministers in January, provided on strict conditions of Latvia's pursuit of an ambitious programme of economic and budgetary adjustment. The assistance is part of an internationally co-ordinated package of up to €7.5 billion, all subject to such stringent conditionality.

The European Commission has, under the state aid rules of the EC Treaty, authorised two aid measures for businesses planned by Hungary to deal with the current economic crisis. The first measure will enable aid of up to €500 000 to be granted in 2009 and 2010 to businesses facing funding problems because of the credit squeeze. The second scheme allows granting aid in the form of reduced interest rates on loans of any duration concluded by 31 December 2010. Both schemes meet the conditions of the Commission’s temporary framework for state aid measures, which gives Member States additional scope to facilitate access to financing in the present economic and financial crisis (see IP/08/1993). They are therefore compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty, which permits aid ‘to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State’.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Financial Reporting: burden reduction for micro-entities - Frequently Asked Questions

• Memo on Communication from the Commission on the Treatment of Impaired Assets in the Community Banking Sector – Frequently Asked Questions

• Speech by Commissioner Hübner "Towards third generation of regional innovation policy"

• Speech by Commissioner Borg "The importance of maritime spatial planning for Integrated Maritime Policy"

• Speech by Commissioner Almunia "The European Economy and the Crisis: policies for recovery"

• Opening remarks of President Barroso upon receiving the De Larosière Report on Financial Supervision in the EU

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

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

Thomas Cook Group/Gold Medal International

E.ON Italia/ MPE Energia

ABF/Azucarera


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