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EXME09 / 14.09
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
14 / 09 / 09
The economic situation has improved markedly since the second quarter, pointing to a better growth outlook for the second half of the year. But as economic activity at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 was worse than initially estimated, GDP is still expected to fall by 4% overall this year in both the EU and the euro area, as forecast in the spring. However, uncertainty remains rife, and while the recovery may surprise on the upside in the very short term, how sustainable it will be remains to be seen. The Commission's forecasts for inflation in 2009 also remain unchanged at 0.9% in the EU and 0.4% in the euro area, with the base effects of past hikes in energy and food prices, which were pushing prices down, fading away and no other significant inflationary pressures in view.
Today, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the public-private partnership between the European Commission and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by EFPIA, made its first major announcement of the success of the collaboration. IMI announced the topics of research of its second call for proposals. With these topics, IMI aims to accelerate the discovery and development of new medicines in the field of cancer, inflammatory and infectious disease. The funding available for the 2nd call will be €156.3 million, with €76.8 million provided by the European Commission and €79.5 million expected to be provided in kind from EFPIA member companies. IMI also introduced also its newly-appointed Executive Director, Michel Goldman, who will officially take up his post on 16 September.
In a letter sent today, the European Commission has, for a second time, asked the Czech telecoms regulator, Český telekomunikační úřad (ČTÚ) to further reduce mobile termination rates (MTRs) in the Czech Republic. MTRs are the wholesale charges which mobile operators charge other operators for connecting calls on their networks. Despite the Commission's recent call on ČTÚ, in a letter sent end of last year, to bring MTRs closer to efficient cost as soon as possible, the Czech regulator intends to maintain the MTR levels set in its previous decision. A new glide path aimed at approximating efficient costs in a swifter manner would, however, provide for a smoother transition to the approach set out in the Commission's Recommendation on Termination Rates (IP/09/710), which asks all Member States to set MTRs at the level of the cost of an efficient operator by 31 December 2012. The Commission also regrets that less stringent obligations are imposed on the smallest operator, MobilKom. This may lead to market failures or disputes between operators if MobilKom decides to raise its own MTRs or to not terminate calls from other operators' networks.
The EU Commission has adopted today a Communication based on the work achieved by the EU Joint Transfer Pricing Forum. The Commission and the Forum consider that the elimination of double taxation linked to transfer pricing adjustments is facilitated by constant monitoring of problems occurring in practice. Such an exercise led to several improvements on the interpretation of the Arbitration Convention's provisions incorporated in the proposed revised Code of conduct, in particular on the reduction of the timeframe for case resolution.
La Commission européenne a adopté aujourd'hui une communication sur l'amélioration de l'application des droits de propriété intellectuelle dans le marché intérieur. Cette communication expose une série d'initiatives pratiques visant à répondre aux conséquences graves qu'ont la contrefaçon et le piratage sur les économies de l'UE et sur la société en général. La Commission propose de compléter le cadre juridique existant par une application mieux ciblée en renforçant la coopération entre le secteur privé, les autorités nationales et les consommateurs dans l'ensemble du marché intérieur.
In July 2009 compared with June 2009, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.3% in the euro area (EA16) and by 0.2% in the EU272. In June production decreased by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively. In July 2009 compared with July 2008, industrial production declined by 15.9% in the euro area and by 14.7% in the EU27. These estimates are released by Eurostat.
The number of persons employed in the euro area (EA16) fell by 0.5% (702 000 persons) in the second quarter of 2009 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat. In the same period, the number of persons employed in the EU27 decreased by 0.6% (1 443 000 persons). In the first quarter of 2009, employment declined by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.8% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted.
The 21st edition of the contest takes place at the "Palais de la découverte" (Paris) from 11 to 15 September 2009. About 140 of EU and non-EU most talented students aged between 14 and 20 will compete for prizes totalling 51 500 € as well as some very attractive special donated prizes from Eiroforum and EPO. Organised by the European Commission, in collaboration with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the Contest will end with the Awards Ceremony announcing the winners of EUCYS 2009. It will be followed by a press conference at 20.00. http://ec.europa.eu/research/youngscientists/index_en.cfm
The European Commission has published an account by Commissioner Fischer Boel of developments in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during the term of the current Commission. The colourful brochure, accessible in 22 languages on the Commissioner's website http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/fischer-boel/index_en.htm, sets out key facts pulled together by commentary from the Commissioner.
To mark the 10th anniversary of its creation the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) is launching an on-line discussion on European health and consumer policy. A dedicated channel on the Debate Europe forum will be open in all EU official languages from 14 September to 9 October 2009. This debate will provide Europeans with a good opportunity to make their voices heard on health and consumer policy and share their views with others. They will be able to vote in an online opinion poll and learn more about what the EU is doing in this area. The conclusions of the online debate will be presented at a special anniversary seminar on 23 October 2009, which will be attended by current and former Commissioners, stakeholders and the media. The online discussion will be available via the Debate Europe forum on: http://europa.eu/debateeurope.
The European Commission has published the results of the public consultation on financial inclusion: ensuring access to a basic bank account. The consultation was launched in February 2009 following the Single Market Review in November 2007 where the Commission invited all stakeholders to reflect on the possibilities to ensure that by a certain date nobody will be denied access to a basic bank account, and a high-level conference organised in May 2008. The objective of the consultation was to collect views from all stakeholders on how financial inclusion could be improved and, more specifically, on how best to ensure that by a certain date every EU citizen or resident has access to a basic bank account. Respondents welcome the Commission's initiative and consider access to a basic bank account necessary for fully participating in the society. Positions of the various stakeholder groups differ as to how the objective of ensuring access to a basic bank account should be achieved, and what should be the role of the different stakeholders. The summary of the responses to the consultation as well as the individual responses can be found at : http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/inclusion_en.htm
The European Commission has published the results of the public consultation on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the area of financial services. The consultation was launched in December 2008 following the Commission's announcement in the Single Market Review that it will examine further the possibilities of improving ADR mechanisms in the field of financial services. Respondents to the consultation generally recognise the benefits of ADR schemes and agree that the possibilities for redress through them could be improved. However, positions differ as to how the improvements could be achieved. The European Commission will attempt to strike a fair balance between these various positions in deciding on the most appropriate follow-up to the consultation. The summary of the responses as well as the individual responses can be found at : http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finservices-retail/redress/index_en.htm
On 25 September, the European Commission will bring together industry representatives, academics as well as high-level representatives from both EU and US financial regulators to discuss new policy approaches to derivatives. Based on the lessons learned from the financial crisis, the conference will also provide an opportunity for the 400 expected participants to voice their opinions. The event marks the end of a public consultation period, which was launched by the Commission Communication on derivatives of 3 July. The outcomes of this conference, together with the replies received to the public consultation, will feed into the Commission's operational conclusions, which will be published by the end of October. The event is open to the press. More information and online registration can be found through this link: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/financial-markets/derivatives/index_en.htm
The Vice-President of the European Commission Günter Verheugen has met today at Bremerhaven with high representatives from Member States, the shipbuilding and marine equipment industry and trade unions to discuss the difficult situation of maritime industry in Europe and to revisit the policy framework of the LeaderSHIP 2015 agenda in light of the current crisis.
Karel De Gucht, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, is making his first visit to EU-funded operations today, in Zimbabwe. On his agenda are two humanitarian projects implemented by partners of the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO).