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Midday Express of 2009-03-27

European Commission - MEX/09/0327   27/03/2009

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EXME09 / 27.03

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

27 / 03 / 09

Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, will visit the region of La Rioja in Spain on 30 March, where she will meet the President of the Regional Government, Pedro María Sanz Alonso, and members of the Government Council. Commissioner Hübner will also see several projects in the region which have received support through the EU's Cohesion Policy.

M. Stavros Dimas, commissaire européen chargé de l'environnement, a souhaité aujourd'hui que les négociations des Nations unies, qui débutent ce dimanche (29 mars), aboutissent à des progrès tangibles en vue d'un nouvel accord mondial ambitieux pour lutter contre le changement climatique. Le sommet, qui se tiendra à Bonn en Allemagne jusqu'au 8 avril, marque le premier cycle de négociations depuis la dernière conférence de l'ONU sur le climat organisée en décembre dernier à Poznań en Pologne, où il a été décidé de transformer ce processus en «mode de négociations en bonne et due forme». Ce nouvel accord mondial, qui prendrait effet en 2013, devrait être conclu lors de la conférence de l'ONU sur le climat qui se tiendra à Copenhague en décembre.

The European Commission, in a letter sent today, asks the German telecoms regulator, Bundesnetzagentur ("BNetzA"), to notify it of Deutsche Telekom's fixed call origination and termination rates. Origination and termination rates are wholesale charges for connecting calls between operators. Until now, BNetzA has only provided general information about the principles it will apply, but did not notify the level of the regulated rates to the Commission and the national regulators of the other 26 EU Member States, as required by the EU telecoms rules' consultation ("Article 7 procedure"). This procedure, provided for by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers since 2002, aims to ensure more coherent and transparent regulation of telecommunication markets across Europe, thereby avoiding distortions of competition between operators from different Member States. Should BNetzA continue to fail to comply with this obligation, the Commission may open an infringement procedure for non-compliance with EU law (Article 226 of the EC Treaty). In December 2008, the Commission had already requested BNetzA to notify mobile termination rates (see IP/08/1860).

In January 2009 compared with December 2008, the euro area (EA16) industrial new orders index fell by 3.4%. In December 2008 the index decreased by 8.0%. In the EU27 new orders declined by 2.2% in January 2009, after dropping by 6.8% in December 2008. Excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment, for which changes tend to be more volatile, industrial new orders fell by 3.3% in the euro area and by 3.8% in the EU27. In January 2009 compared with January 2008, industrial new orders decreased by 34.1% in the euro area and by 30.7% in the EU27. Total industry excluding ships, railway & aerospace equipment dropped by 34.1% in the euro area and by 32.4% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.

In 2008, 32% of individuals aged 16-74 in the EU27 had bought or ordered goods or services for private use over the internet at least once in the last 12 months. Shopping over the internet increased steadily from 20% of individuals in 2004 and 26% in 2006 to 30% in 2007. Between 2004 and 2008, all EU Member States, for which data are available, registered an increase in e-shopping. In connection with the European Consumer Summit on 1-2 April 2009 in Brussels, Eurostat presents a selection of statistics concerning e-shopping taken from the 2008 survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals in the EU27. The EU Commission hosts this first European Consumer Summit, which will focus on the challenges and opportunities of the digital world.

  • Veterinary Agreement boosts EU-Canada trade on live animals and animal products

The veterinary agreement between EU and Canada, celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, is mainly to be credited for the substantial increase of trade of live animals and animal products. The total value of EU export trade (EU-15) to Canada for the main products covered by the agreement has increased by almost 90 % – from 69 million euros per year in 1998 to 131 million euros per year in 2008. Since the EU-Canada veterinary agreement entered into force in March 1999, the increases in the value of the export trade regarded primarily live animals (+139 %), meat (+183 %), dairy products (+90 %) and fish and crustaceans (+48 %). The numbers clearly indicate that the agreement has facilitated trade procedures and enabled wider market access. In practice, wider market access was realised by the recognition of each side's production standards through the establishment of equivalence agreements for pig meat, and bovine semen. Both the EU and Canada have adopted simplified import certificates for these products, which reduce production, inspection and certification costs. The EU and Canada are now finalising equivalency for fisheries products and are working on equivalence determinations for dairy products, live bivalve molluscs -like mussels and clams- and bovine embryos. Canada is also conducting technical work that will establish the import requirements for meat from all Member States and will harmonise trade rules for the Community. Regionalisation for animal diseases relating to the products covered by the veterinary agreement has been implemented which makes it possible for both sides to limit import restrictions only to regions affected by a disease outbreak. A new project is to establish export conditions for products in the occurrence of an outbreak, which is a further step in facilitating trade in such situations. For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/trade/agreements_en.htm

  • Commission clears joint venture between Vodafone and HWL

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the joint venture between Vodafone Australia Limited (VAL), belonging to the group Vodafone Group Plc of the UK and Hutchison 3G Australia Limited (H3GA), belonging to the group Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) of Hong Kong. Vodafone provides mobile and fixed voice and data communications services globally. HWL is active in many areas including telecommunications, ports and related services, retail, property and hotels, energy, infrastructure and finance. The joint venture will provide mobile voice and data services in Australia. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of Countrywide by Oaktree and Apollo

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Countrywide plc of the UK by Oaktree of the US, belonging to the Oaktree Group, and Apollo Group, also of the US. Oaktree Group: is an investment management firm which advises and/or manages certain investment funds. Apollo manages investment funds that have investments in companies involved in numerous businesses throughout the world. Countrywide provides customers in the UK with services in the residential and commercial property sector. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Commission clears acquisition of FUN by GSN

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Fun Technologies, Inc (FUN) of Canada by Game Show Network, LLC (GSN) of the US, jointly controlled by Liberty Media Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment, both of the US. GSN supplies the Game Show Network television channel to TV operators in the US. GSN also operates the website GSN.com, which offers various online services. FUN publishes and distributes skill-based online games to be played on its own websites and certain third-party websites. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • How to design direct and indirect tax systems that are modern, efficient and fair? : The European Commission organises the third Brussels Tax Forum on 30-31 March 2009

László Kovács, EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, is hosting the third Brussels Tax Forum on 30-31 March. "Tax Systems in a Changing World" is the topic chosen for this year's Forum. The conference will focus on how to design direct and indirect tax systems that are modern, efficient and fair. It will address the need for good governance, more transparency and effective exchange of information in the field of taxation. The Brussels Tax Forum is an annual conference that brings together policy makers, experts, stakeholders and the general public from all over the world to discuss tax issues of particular interest. Commissioner Kovács and Peter Chrenko, Czech Deputy Minister of Finance, will hold a joint press briefing on Monday 30 March at 15:00 at the VIP corner of the Charlemagne building of the Commission in Brussels (Rue de la Loi, 170 – 1040 Brussels) Web streaming of the conference will be available on 30-31 March from this web link: http://scic.ec.europa.eu/streaming/chargasp/ Further information on the Forum as well as the programme can also be found at this web link. http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/gen_info/tax_conferences/tax_forum/index_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/taxation/gen_info/conferences/taxforum2009/tax_forum_programme_en.pdf http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/taxation/gen_info/conferences/taxforum2009/tax_forum_practical_info_en.pdf

  • Consumers: Commission to publish report on online personal data collection on eve of first ever European Consumer Summit

On the eve of the first ever European Consumer Summit, Commissioner Kuneva will publish next Tuesday a new Commission discussion paper on "Online Personal Data Collection, Targetting and Profiling". The paper will feed into the 2 day Summit in Brussels, which will focus on the challenges that consumers face in the digital marketplace. Taking place on Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 April, the European Consumer Summit will bring together around 300 top representatives from industry, consumer bodies, national administrations, EU institutions and NGOs. Keynote speakers at the Summit will include Mr Nikesh Arora (Senior Vice-president of Google), Mr. Esko Aho (former Finnish Prime Minister and Board Member of Nokia) and Ms Colette Bowe (Chairman of Ofcom), as well as Commissioner Kuneva herself. The Summit will be a chance for stakeholders from across Europe to look at key issues and concerns for today's consumers, including privacy and data protection, online consumer rights and the role of consumer policy in today's economic environment, amongst other things. Commissioner Kuneva said, "I am very proud to be hosting this summit, which is the biggest ever consumer event organised at EU level. Today's consumers encounter many problems and challenges – particularly in the digital marketplace. The aim of the Summit is to examine what the key issues to be tackled are, and how best to go about doing this. The input of so many high level stakeholders should help us to find the best possible way forward for EU consumer policy in the years ahead." The event "Challenges and Opportunities for Consumers in the Digital World" will take place in Autoworld, Parc Cinquantinaire, Brussels 1000, and journalists who wish to attend should contact Helen Kearns Helen.kearns@ec.europa.eu . Full details on the Summit, including the programme, can be found at: http://www.european-consumer-summit.eu/

  • Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner on bilateral visit to China

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner will pay an official visit to China on 29 and 30 March 2009. During her stay she will continue the dialogue with the Chinese government of issues of common interest and concern like the preparations for the G20 meeting in London, climate change but also on the upcoming EU-China Summit in Prague and the state of play in the negotiations on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. On the agenda of the Commissioner are meetings with Vice Prime Minister Li, Foreign Minister Yang, Minister of Commerce Chen. This visit follows the successful visit of a delegation of the Chinese government led by Prime Minister Wen on 30 January to the European Commission. To find out more: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/china/index_en.htm

  • Joe Borg participates in fisheries conference in Agrigento, Sicily

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Joe Borg will travel to Sicily on Saturday. In the historic city of Agrigento he will be meeting with the President of the Region of Sicily, Raffaele Lombardo, as well as with several other representatives of the regional administration. Later in the morning the Commissioner will address the Regional Conference on Fisheries with a keynote speech in which he will touch upon several maritime issues in the Mediterranean, such as the Mediterranean Regulation on fisheries; the newly created Regional Advisory Council for the Mediterranean which brings together fishermen and other stakeholders to discuss with the Commission how best to manage fisheries in the region and the forthcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy on the basis of a consultation paper which the Commission will publish at the end of April. Later in the day, the Commissioner will also take part in a debate with fishing industry representatives.

  • EU proposes measures for Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to safeguard tuna and sharks

The EU has tabled ambitious proposals in view of this year's annual meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which will take place in Bali from 30 March to 3 April 2009. These proposals include important conservation measures and measures to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) which is rife in the Indian Ocean. If agreed to by the IOTC, these measures, along with the EU's new regulation to combat IUU fishing and the European Commission's recent proposal for an Action Plan for the conservation and management of sharks, would mark an important step forward in the sustainable management of the tuna, tuna-like species and sharks in the Indian Ocean. The EU conservation proposals, which are in line with the most recent scientific advice, include the introduction of catch limitations for the main tropical tuna stocks (yellowfin and bigeye) and for swordfish, a ban on large-scale driftnets. Also proposed are a regional observer programme and the introduction of a new approach against the pernicious practice of "shark finning". Here the EU proposes an obligation to land all shark bodies together with the fins. The IUU proposals foresee trade-related measures to enhance compliance with the conservation measures, the introduction of Port State schemes and a catch documentation scheme for yellowfin tuna. The Community is also hopeful that all parties will agree to launch a reform of the IOTC in accordance with the report of the performance review panel. This report identified the weaknesses of the IOTC and the need for its overhaul so as to give it the capacity to fully play its role as an effective RFMO.

Rediffusion

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement CE sur les concentrations, le projet d'acquisition des activités de l'entreprise néerlandaise Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Philips) dans la vente sous marque de moniteurs pour PC et d’écrans d’affichage électronique (signalisation publique numérique) par TPV Technology Limited, un fabricant de systèmes d’affichage sur écran établi aux Bermudes. Les produits de signalisation publique numérique sont des écrans d’affichage électronique installés dans les espaces publics, transmettant des images aux fins de divertissement, d'information ou de publicité. Après avoir examiné l'opération, la Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que l’opération n'entraverait pas de manière significative l’exercice d’une concurrence effective dans l'Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui-ci.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Antitrust: Commissioner Kroes welcomes the European Parliament’s cross-party support for damages for consumer and business victims of competition breaches

• Memo on Fight against cancer: contribution of EU-funded research

• Speech by President Barroso 'The recession must not be used as an excuse for going back on our aid promises', Brussels

• Speech by Commissioner Rehn 'EU and Turkey – Tackling economic downturn trough partnership', Brussels

• Speech by Commissioner Kroes 'European Models for Economic Recovery', Washington

• Speech by Commissioner Dimas 'Creating the framework for a low-carbon economy', Brussels

• Calendrier hebdomadaire du 30 mars au 3 avril

• Top News from the European Commission

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

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

General Motors/Delphi Steering Business


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