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EXME 10 / 16.11
Midday Express of 2010-11-16
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain is meeting for the first time in Brussels on Tuesday 16 November. It will adopt a work plan to boost competitiveness and to promote best contractual practices in the European food sector, extending the work of the previous High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry to the whole supply chain. Vice President Antonio Tajani is leading this exercise together with his fellow Commissioners Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), John Dalli (Health and Consumer Policy) and Dacian Cioloş (Agriculture and Rural development).
Commission organises hearing to prepare the ground for full SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) migration
The Commission services will hold a public hearing in Brussels on the morning of Wednesday 17 November 2010 to assist in finalising the proposal for an EU Regulation establishing end-dates for migration to SEPA credit transfers and direct debits. The intention of Commissioner Barnier is to adopt the proposal before the end of the year. This hearing will provide an opportunity to give consideration, in particular, to the appropriateness of including rules on fees that banks require of each other when executing direct debit transfers (so called multilateral interchange fees), as well as to assess concerns expressed by some stakeholders regarding some of the technical rules that banks will have to comply with. The conference is fully booked. A limited number of places is still reserved for members of the press. They can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with "SEPA conference" in the heading. The conference can also be followed live by web stream: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/payments/sepa/ec_en.htm#migration
Commission looks at innovative ways to improve urban freight transport and logistics
The European Commission and the Belgian Presidency are promoting innovative and sustainable solutions to problems related to urban freight transport and logistics at a conference on urban freight transport and logistics that opened today in Brussels. The conference brings together about 250 experts from across Europe to discuss how urban freight transport and logistics can be made more efficient, cleaner and seamlessly linked with long-distance transport on the trans-European Transport networks. The conference is part of the roll-out of the Commission's Action Plan on Urban Mobility, adopted in September 2009. The action plan proposes 20 initiatives to help and encourage local, regional and national authorities in achieving their goals for sustainable urban mobility. EU funds continue to support new approaches to urban freight transport through CIVITAS, an EU initiative that helps cities to achieve a more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport system. For further information, visit: http://www.civitas-initiative.eu - See also: Action Plan on Urban Mobility
Commission to transmit to Council proposals to authorise one GM maize product and renew the authorisation of another
The Commission will transmit to the Council a proposal to authorise one genetically modified (GM) maize product and a proposal to renew the authorisation of another GM maize product after Member States did not endorse the two proposals yesterday during a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). The Commission presented yesterday to SCoFCAH the proposal for the authorisation of GM maize MON89034xMON88017 for food and feed uses and import and processing and the proposal for the renewal of the authorisation of GM maize line 1507 for feed use, import and processing. The Commission tabled the proposals following two applications submitted by Monsanto Europe SA (MON 89034 x MON 88017) and by Pioneer Overseas Corporation and Dow AgroSciences (maize line 1507) and favourable scientific assessments from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which addressed all safety concerns. EFSA concluded that there is no risk to human and animal health or to the environment. The EFSA opinion also addressed the questions raised by Member States before delivering its scientific opinion. As a result of yesterday's inconclusive vote, the Commission must now transmit the dossiers to the Council for a decision. If the Council does not reach a position, the proposals will be sent back to the Commission for final adoption. For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm
Commission publishes report on the application of the Farm Advisory System
Member States have the obligation to establish a system for advising farmers on land and farm management, the so-called Farm Advisory System (FAS). It is a major component of the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and had to be introduced by 2007. The objective of the FAS is to help farmers to become more aware of on-farm processes relating to the environment, food safety and animal health and welfare. Given the recent introduction of the FAS, the purpose of the Commission report published today is not to offer an exhaustive overview but to provide input for a debate in the Council and the European Parliament in the course of 2010-2011. The report proposes to improve the management of the FAS: ensuring that knowledge is shared between actors and that synergies between various instruments such as advice, training, information, extension services and research are enhanced. A FAS advisor should act as a ‘general practitioner’, interlinking all different aspects of farming. He should explain to farmers not only EU requirements but also their objectives, and the underlying policies. The report is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/farm-advisory-system/index_en.htm
The EU supports over a million smallholder farmer families in Zimbabwe
Today, the European Commission approved a project in favour of Zimbabwean smallholder farmers for a total amount of EUR 7 million which will benefit to at least one million small farmer families. The overall goal of this support is to reduce the dependency of vulnerable rural communal households on humanitarian assistance and improve their livelihoods. The project addresses both production and marketing constraints faced by smallholder farmers. In Zimbabwe, the Commission provides aid in support of the population, in particular in social sectors and in support of the reforms contained in the Global Political Agreement (GPA, signed in September 2008 and which has laid the foundation for the present Government of National Unity). Therefore the European Union continues to support the stabilisation of the Government of National Unity and its reform programmes through its transitional support for agriculture and food security, social sectors, including health and education, and for GPA implementation. The project adopted today is funded by an Ad Hoc allocation and is part of the EU 2010 Short Term Strategy and of the EU road map in the context of the political dialogue between Zimbabwe and the European Union. Full text of the press release: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/headlines/press-releases/
The European Union helps Benin, Cape Verde, Lesotho and Samoa to face the consequences of the economic crisis
The European Commission has adopted today a financing decision providing a total amount of EUR 48.5 million to help Benin (EUR 13 million), Cape Verde (EUR 9 million), Lesotho (EUR 21 million) and Samoa (EUR 5.5 million) to cope with the consequences of the global economic crisis in the framework of the Vulnerability FLEX mechanism (V-FLEX) . This support will be implemented by an increase of ongoing budget support programmes, which will help governments to maintain their level of public spending in priority areas, including in the social sectors. The Vulnerability FLEX mechanism is the European Union's swift response to help African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries which were the most affected by the economic downturn. Indeed, the crisis has had a major impact on developing countries. A significant number of the most affected countries now face the risk of losing the progress made on macroeconomic stability and poverty reduction, thereby calling into question and jeopardizing efforts undertaken towards achieving the millennium development goals. The V-Flex mechanism was created in 2009 and was allocated EUR 500 million over two years (2009-2010). It is demand-driven and targeted at countries with a high degree of economic, social and political vulnerability, the right policies in place to fight the crisis and sufficient absorptive capacity as well as a financing gap in their budgets where EU support can make a difference by closing or significantly reducing this gap. See also: Press Release IP/10/1091
Euro area annual inflation was 1.9% in October 2010, up from 1.8% in September. A year earlier the rate was -0.1%. Monthly inflation was 0.4% in October 2010. EU annual inflation was 2.3% in October 2010, up from 2.2% in September. A year earlier the rate was 0.5%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in October 2010. These figures come from Eurostat.
Participants in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations announced today that they have concluded their negotiations, after resolving the few issues that remained outstanding after the final round of negotiations in Tokyo. The participants will publish shortly the finalised text of the agreement, which remains subject to a final legal review. The proposed agreement will then be ready to be submitted to the participants’ respective authorities to undertake relevant domestic processes prior to signature, including consultations.
The European Commission has authorised a loan facility worth €52 million for Air Malta. The aid is in line with EU state aid rules, because it is limited in time and scope. The Commission approved the measure temporarily, until it can take a position on the restructuring plan to be submitted by Malta within maximum six months.
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