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EXME09 / 03.11


News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

03 / 11 / 09

The Commission's autumn forecast projects that the EU economy will emerge from recession in the second half of this year, although for 2009 as a whole, GDP is still set to fall by some 4%. A gradual recovery is expected with GDP forecast to grow by ¾% in 2010 and around 1½% in 2011. The near-term rebound in activity follows from improvements in the external environment and financial conditions, as well as from the significant fiscal and monetary policy measures put in place. Further out, a number of factors are set to restrain private demand and thus, the strength of the recovery. In particular, labour-market conditions will remain weak, with the unemployment rate projected to reach 10¼% in the EU. The public deficit is also expected to rise, to 7½% of GDP in 2010, before falling back slightly in 2011 as the economy picks up and temporary measures gradually come to an end.

Le premier sommet UE-US avec la nouvelle administration américaine se tiendra le mardi 3 novembre à Washington D.C. Les dirigeants participant à ce sommet évoqueront la façon dont l'UE et les États-Unis peuvent coopérer pour faire face aux défis qui se posent au monde, tels que la relance économique et la croissance, le changement climatique, et la fourniture d'une aide efficace aux pays en développement. L’Afghanistan, le Pakistan, le Moyen-Orient et l’Iran devraient figurer au centre des discussions en matière de politique étrangère. L'une des retombées importantes de cette rencontre sera le lancement du Conseil UE – US de l'énergie qui se réunira pour la première fois le lendemain du sommet. Ce Conseil aura vocation à intensifier l'interaction politique dans le domaine de l'énergie et s'intéressera à la sécurité énergétique mondiale, aux nouvelles technologies et à la recherche.

From 2 November, banks will start to offer customers the possibility to make regular payments using the new SEPA Direct Debit scheme. This means that, for the first time, consumers and businesses will be able to make direct debit transactions between different countries in the euro area. Supporting the industry-led scheme are new EU rules on payment services and cross-border payments, in force as of 1 November, which are designed to ensure that SEPA Direct Debits will be as easy, efficient and secure as national schemes without being more expensive. Thousands of euro area banks have already signed up for the new scheme.

The European Commission has invited comments on a Commission working document that aims to provide further guidance to participants in the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) scheme to ensure that collective financing arrangements applied within this scheme comply with EC Treaty competition rules. The SDD scheme, launched by the European Payments Council (EPC) on 2 November 2009, allows consumers and businesses, for the first time, to use a pan-European system for cross-border direct debit transactions. The working document complements indications as regards competition rules already given in Council and European Parliament Regulation 924/2009 on cross-border payments (see IP/09/637) and in the joint Commission/European Central Bank press release and statements of September 2008 and March 2009 (see IP/08/1290 and IP/09/468). Comments can be submitted until 14th December 2009. The public consultation reflects the Commission's commitment to remain in close dialogue with all relevant stakeholders. Following these consultations the Commission may, if appropriate, decide to adopt final guidance.

From 1 November 2009 consumers in the European Union should find it easier to switch their current account from one bank to another within their own Member State. This improvement is thanks to a set of 'Common Principles for Bank Account Switching' which was adopted by the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC) (IP/08/1841) last year and have now been implemented in the Member states by the national banking associations. From now on, whenever consumers wish to switch their current account to another bank, the new bank will offer its assistance throughout the switching process.

  • Commission clears acquisition of subsidiaries of Univeg by Univeg and Ciccolella

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Univeg Holding B.V.'s flower and plant activities (Univeg F&P) by Univeg Holding B.V. (Univeg) of The Netherlands and F.lli Cicolella S.p.a (Ciccolella) of Italy. Univeg is active in the production, import, export, packaging, handling and logistics of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, flowers bulbs, plants and related products, and convenience food. Ciccolella and Univeg F&P grow and sell cut flowers and plants. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

  • Press accreditation for Ljubljana Conference – Rehabilitating our Common Heritage, Ljubljana, 6 – 7 November 2009

The Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture are organising an international event, the Ljubljana Conference – Rehabilitating our Common Heritage, to be held on 6 and 7 November in Ljubljana. The Conference will be dedicated to the Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan/Survey of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP/SAAH), a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission in South-East Europe since 2003. The last phase of the project, called the Ljubljana Process – Funding Heritage Rehabilitation in South-East Europe (2008–2010), was launched during Slovenia's EU Presidency in May 2008. The objectives of the Ministerial Conference are to raise awareness about the importance of rehabilitation of cultural heritage and its social, economic and development potential; to review the results of the joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission; to reach an agreement on further development and enhancement of the process and to transfer the knowledge of best practices and methodology to the Kyiv Initiative countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. For additional information please contact John Macdonald on +32 2 295 52 67. If you are interested in receiving press accreditation for this event, please send an e-mail to (+386 1 478 2616; mobile: +386 51 371 863).


The European Commission has authorised, under EC Treaty state aid rules, the temporary prolongation of the guarantee jointly granted by Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the debt of Dexia. The Commission found that the prolongation of the measure, previously authorised by the Commission in November 2008 (see IP/08/1745), is justified by the funding situation of the group and its systemic importance for the economies of the three Member States, is in line with previous practice on such measures and is compatible with Article 87.3.b of the EC Treaty (which allows aid that is an appropriate, necessary and proportionate means of remedying a serious disturbance in Member States' economies). However, the prolongation is limited to four months (until the end of February 2010), by which time the Commission intends to reach a final decision on the compatibility with the rules on restructuring aid of the overall state aid package granted to Dexia. This package is currently the subject of an in-depth investigation opened in March 2009 (see IP/09/399).

  • Commission decisions on three different types of GM maize

The European Commission adopted today three decisions authorising Genetically Modified (GM) maize MON88017, MON89034, 59122xNK603, for food and feed uses and import and processing. MON88017, MON89034 and 59122xNK603 received a positive safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and underwent the full authorisation procedure set out in EU legislation. As Member States failed to return qualified majority decisions for or against these three authorisations in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), and then in the Council, the dossiers were sent back to the Commission for a decision. The authorisations are valid for 10 years, and any products derived from these three different types of GM maize will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information, see:

  • Autre matériel diffusé

• Memo on SEPA Direct Debit Launch – Frequently Asked Questions (see IP/09/1665)

• Opening speech by Commissioner Vassiliou at the Conference 'Influenza at the interface between humans and animals', Brussels

• Introductory Statement of President Barroso at the European Council, Brussels

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

Notification préalable d'une opération de concentration:

Nokia/ SAP/JV

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