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EXME 10 / 30.07

Midday Express of 2010-07-30

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

High Level Forum to take on challenges of food sector

The European Commission has decided today to extend the mandate of the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry, upgrading it to a High Level Forum to improve the functioning of the food supply chain as regards contractual relations, logistics and competitiveness. The agro-food industry represents 2% of Europe's GDP and 13.5% of total employment in the EU’s manufacturing sector. It consists of approximately 310 000 enterprises, including some global leaders. It continues to play a fundamental role in satisfying the needs of consumers and contributes an annual production of more than € 600 billion to the EU economy. However, the entire European food supply chain has entered a period of adjustment. Consumer preferences are changing as a result of income and lifestyle developments as well as shifts in population. Customer concerns about food safety, health and prices, have also imposed stringent requirements on the sector.

Euro area unemployment rate stable at 10.0%

The euro area (EA16) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0% in June 2010, unchanged compared with May. It was 9.5% in June 2009. The EU27 unemployment rate was 9.6% in June 2010, unchanged compared with May. It was 9.0% in June 2009. Eurostat estimates that 23.062 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 15.771 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in June 2010. Compared with May 2010, the number of persons unemployed decreased by 32 000 in the EU27, while it increased by 6 000 in the euro area. Compared with June 2009, unemployment rose by 1.466 million in the EU27, and by 0.788 million in the euro area. These figures are published by Eurostat.

Euro area inflation estimated at 1.7%

Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 1.7% in July 2010 according to a flash estimate issued by Eurostat. It was 1.4% in June. Euro area inflation is measured by the Monetary Union Index of Consumer Prices (MUICP). To compute the MUICP flash estimates, Eurostat uses early price information relating to the reference month from Member States for which data are available4 as well as early information about energy prices. The flash estimation procedure for the MUICP combines historical information with partial information on price developments in the most recent months to give a total index for the euro area. No detailed breakdown is available. Experience has shown the procedure to be reliable (20 times exactly anticipating the inflation rate and 4 times differing by 0.1 over the last two years). Further information can be found in Eurostat News Release 113/2001 of 5 November 2001.

European Commission to participate in UN climate negotiations

The European Commission will participate in UN climate change negotiations taking place on 2-6 August in Bonn, Germany. The meeting at official level is the third of a series of four international negotiating sessions following the December 2009 Copenhagen climate conference and preparing the December 2010 Cancún (Mexico) climate conference. The Commission and the Belgian Presidency of the Council will negotiate on behalf of the European Union. The EU continues to press for a global and comprehensive legal agreement as the only effective way to secure the objective, endorsed in the Copenhagen Accord, of keeping the increase in global temperatures below 2°C above the pre-industrial level. The EU is working to ensure a stepwise approach towards this goal, with ambitious and concrete decisions to be agreed in Cancún as an important milestone towards an international legal agreement. Building upon the Copenhagen Accord, the August session will focus on important elements to be agreed upon in Cancún, including the formalisation of developed countries' commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and of actions to be undertaken by developing countries, the development of rules to measure, report and verify emissions as well as financial support, future financial institutions relating to climate change, and carbon market mechanisms. The EU delegation will hold press briefings on Monday 2 August at 14:00 in the Hotel Maritim in the Haydn room, and on Friday 6 August in the early afternoon, time to be confirmed, in the same place. The briefings will be streamed live and on-demand through the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at .

State aid: Commission prolongs temporary approval of state support for Fortis Bank Nederland and ABN Amro

The European Commission has prolonged the temporary authorisation of the state support granted by The Netherlands to Fortis Bank Nederland and ABN Amro, initially given on 5 February 2010 (see IP/10/138). The temporary approval is prolonged until the Commission will have completed its investigations and adopted a final decision on the compatibility of the notified and non-notified measures in favour of these companies with EU state aid rules.

Commission clears acquisition by Crédit Suisse and Barclays of Ionbond Group

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Crédit Suisse and Barclays of joint control of Ionbond Group of Switzerland. Crédit Suisse and Barclays are global financial services providers. Ionbond Group is active in the area of surface treatment and has operations in 20 countries. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission sets up expert group to strengthen the voice of financial services users at EU level

In order to strengthen the representation of consumers, retail investors and other users of financial services at EU level, the European Commission has decided to set up a Financial Services User Group. Its main tasks will be to advise the Commission on issues affecting users of financial services such as retail banking, mortgage credit and insurances, as well as to provide insight, opinion and advice on the practical implementation of relevant policy initiatives. Finally, the group will identify key financial services issues, and liaise with user representatives and representative bodies at European Union and national level. The group will be composed of 20 members, who will be individuals appointed to represent the interests of consumers, retail investors or micro-enterprises, and individual experts with expertise in financial services from the perspective of the financial services user. A call for expression of interest has just been launched. Further information can be found at

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