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EXME09 / 28.05

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

28 / 05 / 09

Les films et les émissions de télévision "made in Europe" continuent d'attirer les téléspectateurs européens. Selon une étude indépendante, commandée par la Commission européenne et publiée aujourd'hui, les œuvres européennes représentent près des trois-quarts du temps de grande écoute des chaînes européennes. La présence d'œuvres européennes dans les nouveaux média, comme la vidéo à la demande, est encourageante mais sa conformité aux nouvelles règles audiovisuelles européennes exige un suivi étroit. Ces règles, destinées à assurer la diffusion des œuvres européennes, ont été complétées en 2007 par des mesures spécifiques aux nouveaux média qui doivent être appliquées par tous les Etats Membres avant décembre 2009 (IP/08/2032).

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint venture between SGL Carbon SE of Germany and Brembo S.p.A of Italy to develop and produce carbon-ceramic brake discs and systems. After examining the operation, the Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

Action is needed to improve communication about the qualities of agricultural products — to help reconnect farmers with consumers. Quality labelling schemes must also be easier for people to use and understand and EU policy must be more coherent. These are the main recommendations of a European Commission Communication on agricultural product quality policy, adopted today. EU farmers meet some of the most stringent farming requirements in the world regarding environmental protection, animal welfare and the use of pesticides and veterinary drugs. In addition, they use their expertise and skill to give their products individual qualities that add value. But do farmers get a fair return for their efforts? Do consumers get accurate information about product characteristics and farming attributes?

In May, the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for the EU and the euro area picked up for the second month in a row, albeit from a very low level and at a slower pace than in April, when a clear rebound was observed. The ESI increased by 2.8 points in the EU, and by 2.1 points in the euro area, to 66.7 and 69.3 respectively.

The Business Climate Indicator (BCI) for the euro area again increased in May, albeit at a slower pace than in April. This is the first improvement sustained over two consecutive months since May 2008. The indicator nevertheless remained at a very low level, suggesting that year-on-year industrial production growth will have been negative in April and will remain distinctly subdued in May. The rise in the BCI reflects an improving situation in the underlying components, except for those related to order books. Managers' production expectations and view of the production trend observed in recent months continued to pick up in May. Managers' assessment of stocks of finished goods also showed an improvement on last month's level, though order books and export order books slightly worsened.

The European Commission has today set out its record of achievement in advance of the European Parliament election. The European Commission has made the re-unified European Union work to the benefit of its citizens and has brought increased stability and prosperity to a Union of 27 Member States. It has responded decisively to the financial and economic crisis. It has implemented an integrated approach to fighting climate change and securing energy supply. The Commission has sought to shape globalisation so that it is inclusive, better regulated and reflects European values.

The short-stay visa waiver agreements were signed today in a ceremony that took place in Brussels with the participation, from the EC side, of Vice-President Jacques Barrot (from the Commission) and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Helena Bambasová (from the Czech Presidency) and representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mauritius, Barbados and Seychelles.

Can you measure creativity? Can you compare it across countries and regions or across different fields of human activity? If yes, in what way? An international conference organised by the European Commission and its Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) will address these questions in Brussels on 28 and 29 May 2009. Researchers, country officials, representatives from international organisations and education practitioners will come together to discuss the feasibility of both measuring creativity and — in the longer term — of conducting a large-scale survey on individual creativity.

À l’occasion de la Journée mondiale sans tabac, la Commission lance la deuxième phase de sa campagne «HELP – Pour une vie sans tabac». Le 31 mai, sur plus d’une centaine de chaînes de toute l’Europe, le public découvrira trois messages télévisés qui seront ensuite diffusés pendant les mois de juin et septembre. Réalisés en collaboration avec des jeunes, ces films utilisent l’humour pour aborder trois thèmes sérieux: ne pas commencer à fumer, comment arrêter, les méfaits de la fumée secondaire. La Commission estime que les images sont plus parlantes que les mots, surtout en matière de lutte contre le tabagisme. Elle a donc créé, en 2005, une médiathèque de 42 images destinées à accompagner les avertissements relatifs à la santé devant obligatoirement figurer sur les paquets de tabac. La Commission envisage de renouveler les avertissements actuels en 2010.

In 2007, one third of the EU27 population lived in a household that couldn't afford an unexpected expenditure, corresponding in each Member State to a set share of the national at-risk-of poverty threshold. In the EU27, 7% of population lived in a household that had been unable to pay as scheduled utility bills for their main dwelling in the last 12 months and 3% in a household that had been unable to pay either rent or mortgage payment. More than half of the population in Latvia and Hungary (both 63%) and Poland (54%) lived in a household that was unable to afford an unexpected expenditure. On the other hand, only one fifth or less of the population lived in such a household in Sweden (18%), Denmark (19%) and Portugal (20%). The highest shares of the population living in households that had been in arrears with utility bills were found in Hungary (18%), Poland (17%), Greece (16%) and Slovenia (11%). The highest shares of the population living in households that had been in arrears with either rent or mortgage were found in Greece (7%), France and Cyprus (both 6%). These data, published by Eurostat com from the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (EU-SILC).

  • European Commission and Russia agree to strengthen dialogue in public health

Today in Moscow, Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and Minister of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation Ms Tatyana Golikova signed Terms of Reference for establishing a dialogue in public health. This dialogue goes beyond the current health provisions in the EU – Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. For example, it includes the monitoring and control of the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, the promotion of healthy lifestyles to reduce avoidable premature mortality and strengthening surveillance, the cooperation on the development of common food safety standards. Following the signature of these Terms of Reference, Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: "Concerted health promotion efforts and an effective collaboration across borders are essential to the future of our health systems. Health challenges, common to Member States and Russia, can be better addressed when tackled by joint actions and international initiatives. This dialogue on public health will contribute to the current EU-Russia Partnership as well as to future bilateral relations and to global health initiatives." Commissioner Vassiliou and Minister Golikova also discussed possibilities for immediate joint actions related to influenza A H1N1, youth health, as well as diet and nutrition. The health dialogue is part of a wider process of improving EU-Russian contacts, which was agreed at the EC-Russia summit in 2005.

  • Commission clears acquisition of by PRN by Grupa Polsat and Thomson Technicolor Polska

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of PRN Polska Sp. z o.o. (PRN) of Poland by Bithell Holdings Limited (Bithell) of Cyprus, belonging to the Polsat Group (‘Grupa Polsat’) of Poland, and Thomson Technicolor Polska Sp. z o.o. (Thomson Technicolor Polska), belonging to Thomson Group (Thomson) of France. Grupa Polsat is a diversified media and telecommunications group, mostly active in Poland. Thomson Technicolor Polska is a Polish subsidiary of Thomson, a French company offering technologies and services supporting the production, distribution and broadcasting of media content. Thomson Technicolor Polska is active in the manufacturing of plastic DVD discs, replication of audio and video recordings, technology implementation and trade. PRN is active in digital signage in Poland. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Insurance industry to discuss Commission proposals for future of Insurance Block Exemption Regulation

The preliminary findings of a Commission report and accompanying Working Document published on 24th March (see IP/09/470) concerning the EU Insurance Block Exemption Regulation (BER - Regulation358/2003) will be the subject of discussions with representations from industry and other stakeholders at a public event organised by the European Commission next Tuesday 2 June. Registration remains open for the event, which will begin at 9.30 with a keynote speech from Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. There will be four panel discussions on each of the four current BER exemptions. The venue is: European Commission Charlemagne building, 170 Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, B - 1049 Brussels. Registration, agenda and practical details available via http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/financial_services/events/insurance_ber.html Journalists welcome on presentation of valid press card.

  • Negotiations on new global climate agreement to resume in Bonn

The European Commission is looking for further progress towards convergence on a new United Nations climate change agreement during the next round of negotiations taking place in Bonn, Germany from 1 to 12 June. The new agreement is due to be finalised in December at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen and would cover the period after 2012, when the emission targets set by the Kyoto Protocol expire. The European Union's aim is to achieve a framework for ambitious global action to prevent climate change from reaching the dangerous levels that are predicted if the current rising trend in global greenhouse gas emissions continues. The Bonn session is the first to be held since comprehensive negotiating texts intended to form the basis of the Copenhagen agreement were proposed earlier this month. This will help to focus the discussions and encourage all Parties to put forward their views on the wide range of issues to be addressed. Though many issues are yet to be resolved, discussions to date have made important progress that can be built on in Bonn, for example regarding a new framework for action on adaptation to climate change and a possible registry of actions by developing countries to limit their emissions growth. The EU will be led by the Czech Presidency and the European Commission. They will hold joint press conferences in Bonn on the first and last days of the session which will be streamed live at www.unfccc.int.

  • Post Madoff

Commissioner McCreevy initiates clarification of UCITS (Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) regulations regime. Commissioner McCreevy announced today in Brussels that he intends to clarify and strengthen provisions of the UCITs regime particularly as regards the liability of depositories. He announced he will launch a consultation before the end of June to deal with inconsistencies in the application of the UCITS directive which were shown up by the Madoff scandal. One of the consequences of the Madoff scandal in the EU is that it affected retail investors who had invested in certain UCITS funds the assets of which had been entrusted to a Madoff entity as a sub-custodian. Last December (MEMO/09/27) Commissioner McCreevy informed Ministers of Finance that he had asked his services to work closely with the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) to look into the liability of the UCITS depositories in the 27 Member States. The outcome of this review by CESR is now known and it shows that the minimum high level principles of the UCITS Directive have been transposed in very diverging ways by Member States. The outcome is an unlevel playing field. This means that some EU investors in UCITS funds are better protected than others. On the other hand, the Commission has made stringent proposals on the regulation of depositories, their liability, eligibility, etc in its recent proposal for Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) (MEMO/09/211). According to this proposal, depositories should be credit institutions based, authorised and supervised in the EU. Their liability has been strengthened, including an inversion of the burden of proof, and there are clear provisions on delegation as well as on the conditions under which assets can be entrusted to depositories outside the EU. Mr McCreevy wants to extend such provisions to UCITS funds. The new proposal should at least cover what the AIFM proposal covers. It would not be appropriate to have a less stringent approach for retail investors than for professional investors.

Rediffusion

La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement communautaire sur les concentrations, le projet de rachat du fabricant de chocolat allemand Schokinag par l’entreprise américaine Archer Daniels Midland, spécialisée dans les matières premières agricoles. Après examen, la Commission est parvenue à la conclusion que l’opération n’entraverait pas de manière significative une concurrence effective dans l’Espace économique européen (EEE) ou une partie substantielle de celui ci.

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on Questions and answers on the "HELP 2.0" campaign

• Memo on Questions and answers on tobacco health warnings

• Introductory remarks by President Barroso and Commissioners McCreevy and Almunia at the Joint Press Conference on European Financial Supervision, Brussels

• Discours du Vice Président Tajani 'Les Transports dans l'économie mondiale: défis et opportunités en temps de crise', Leipzig

• Speech by Commissioner Dimas 'REACH: Achievements and Challenges', Helsinki

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

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration :

RWE Innogy/Rheinenergie/Stadtwerke Muenchen/MAN

Ferrostal/Marquesado Solar

Sibur/CITCO

Almeco/ Mage/ Tinox

Crédit Agricole/CACEIS

Carphone Warehouse/Tiscali UK

NPM/Fortis/Helvoet

Bluebay HYI/Bluebay MSI/RHJI/Honsel AG



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