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EXME09 / 22.09
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
22 / 09 / 09
The European Heritage Days – supported by the European Commission – will once again attract around 20 million people in 49 countries to visit selected sites and monuments. In parallel, in Ljubljana on 22 – 23 September, experts at the Second European Heritage Forum will discuss the latest developments of digital techniques to guarantee access of the widest public to cultural heritage.
In a year marked by exceptional economic turbulence, the 2008 EU budget continued to provide stable funding without increasing the financial burden on Member States. The 2008 financial report presented by the Commission today shows how a record 40% of the 2008 budget's €116.5 billion was invested in measures linked directly to jobs, growth and competitiveness like the €6 billion committed for new research projects (€500m more than in 2007). Farm payments continued to fall taking 37% of funds, marginally less than 2007. In terms of EU GNI the 2008 budget was steady, rising only slightly to 0.94% (0.93% of EU GNI in 2007).
La Commission européenne désignera les lauréats du premier Prix de la communication sur le label écologique communautaire lors d'une cérémonie qui se tiendra demain à Bruxelles. Ce prix récompense les entreprises qui ont mené des actions remarquables auprès du grand public pour mieux faire connaître le label écologique communautaire – le label attribué par l'Union européenne aux produits et services respectueux de l'environnement. Près de 20 000 produits et services d'hébergement touristique proposés dans l'Union européenne et au-delà sont désormais porteurs de ce label, qui connaît une croissance rapide.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Paris Re Holdings Limited (Paris Re) of Switzerland by PartnerRe Ltd of Bermuda. Both companies are globally active in reinsurance. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Cedefop and the European Commission’s Directorates-General for Education and Culture and for Taxation and Customs Union are holding an international conference on tax incentives for education and training on 22 September in Brussels. The dual focus of the conference is to better understand the role of tax benefits in promoting education and training and to help policy makers design taxation policies with this purpose in mind. Cedefop’s recently published study, 'The use of tax incentives to support education and training in six selected Member States' (Germany, France, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland) shows that there is considerable scope for tax incentives to cover a greater share of investment in education and training than they do today. But in order to be effective tax incentives should be clear, simple and well-targeted, and provide a substantial financial benefit. Cedefop is the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and was established in 1975. It is a European agency that helps promote and develop vocational education and training in the European Union, and is the EU's reference centre for vocational education and training. Link to the Cedefop press release: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/etv/news/default.asp?idnews=4778 Conference website: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/gen_info/tax_conferences/tax_incentives/ Download the publication: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/etv/Information_resources/Bookshop/publication_details.asp?pub_id=536
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas regrets the decision yesterday by EU Member States not to give their support to a proposal to temporarily ban international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said that it was now up to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to assume its full responsibility to ensure the recovery of bluefin tuna. Now more than ever, every effort had to be made to give the ICCAT multiannual plan greater clout and to make it more effective, in line with scientific advice. ICCAT Members had to realise that the very future of this iconic stock depended on it. The EU was asked by Monaco to co-sponsor a proposal to list the fish under Appendix I of CITES at a meeting of the Convention in March 2010, where the final decision will be taken. The European Commission had argued that the EU could offer its provisional support to Monaco's proposal, while waiting for further scientific evidence on the population status of Atlantic bluefin tuna and the outcome of the annual meeting of the ICCAT in November. However, at a meeting on Monday 21 September EU Member States could not agree to back the proposal. The Commission has expressed its grave concerns about the state of stocks of the fish which are rapidly declining after decades of overfishing. MS agreed yesterday that the EU's final position on the listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna at the March meeting will depend on the outcome of the ICCAT meeting in November 2009. At the meeting Member States agreed that the EU would propose the listing of two species of shark – spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and Porbeagle (Lamna nasus) – under Annex II of the CITES Convention. If the proposal is adopted at the CITES meeting in March 2010, international trade for those species would be subject to stricter regulation.
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou begins a 4 day visit to China on 22 September. In Beijing, the Commissioner will meet Ministers in charge of the issues under her portfolio; she will have contacts with the municipal authorities, and she will speak to business leaders and students addressing all the areas of her portfolio: food safety, animal health and public health issues. The Commissioner will meet Mr Niu Dun, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Mr Wang Yong, the Minister responsible for checking imports and exports (AQSIQ) to discuss food safety and in particular the progress made on the Memoranda of Understanding between the Commissioner and the Chinese authorities on animal health, food safety and product safety. Specific issues concerning food trade and the EU's safety standards will be discussed with particular emphasis on the issue of controls on food exported to the EU.The Commissioner will also meet her Chinese counterpart Mr. Chen Zu, the Chinese Minister of Health. They will approve an agreement on Terms of Reference establishing a new dialogue in the public health area. This agreement lays the foundations for regular exchange of information and best practice between the EU and China, to promote health. Other important issues in this agreement include the implementation of international health agreements on tobacco and communicable diseases, and involvement of civil society in health policy development. The Commissioner will also deliver a speech to students at the Chinese National School of Administration on crisis management drawing on EU experience in food safety policy and the recent example of the H1N1 pandemic. Finally, Commissioner Vassiliou will visit Shanghai and will meet the director of the Shanghai Centre of Disease Control and tour the Shanghai 2010 Exhibition site.