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EXME 11 / 28.01

Midday Express of 2011-01-28

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

Data Protection Day: guaranteeing individuals' privacy rights

Nowadays the exchange of information across the globe has become easier and faster. An individual’s personal data – email, photos and electronic agendas – may be created in the UK using software hosted in Germany; processed in India; stored in Poland and accessed in Spain by an Italian citizen. This rapid increase in information flows around the world presents a big challenge for individuals' rights to personal data privacy. Data protection issues, including their cross-border dimension, affect people every day – at work, in dealing with public authorities, when buying goods or services, or when travelling or surfing the internet. Today – on Data Protection Day – the Council of Europe and the European Commission are joining forces to promote the fundamental right to data protection.

Buying social: a Guide to taking account of social considerations in public procurement

The new Guide is a very concrete tool to help public authorities to buy goods and services in a socially responsible way in line with EU rules. It also highlights the contribution public procurement can make to stimulate greater social inclusion.

New guide to help public authorities to provide high quality and efficient services of general interest

This new Guide aims at clarifying the European rules applicable to the organisation and financing of services of general interest. This Guide thus helps public authorities, especially at local level, to provide high quality and efficient services in line with the EU rules.

Commissioner Piebalgs at the African Union Summit to push for more stability in view of sustainable development

EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will attend the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on 30/31 January. Leaders will meet to discuss the theme of the summit - "Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values". The European Union is working in close partnership with the African Union in promoting sound governance, rule of law, human rights, gender equality and culture. He will also attend a meeting organised on the situation on Somalia chaired by Ban-Ki-Moon, and he will hold a series of bilateral meetings with key representatives of the continent to discuss political and aid issues.

Commissioner Piebalgs to visit Ethiopia to discuss strengthened relationship and sign €13.7 million climate change project

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will meet the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other members of the national government in Addis Ababa on 31 January. Their discussions will provide an opportunity to further strengthen EU development cooperation with Ethiopia, an important regional partner to the EU and recipient of the single largest share of EU aid.. Commissioner Piebalgs will explore ways to support the government's five-year "Growth and transformation" national strategy and will sign an agreement for the implementation of the Global Climate Change Alliance in Ethiopia.

Uganda: EU to observe the February general elections

The European Union is deploying an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the general elections in Uganda, scheduled to take place on 18 February 2011. Led by Edward Scicluna, Member of the European Parliament, the 110 EU observers will assess pre-election preparations and campaigning across the country, voting, counting and tabulation of the results on Election Day, as well as the post-election period.

Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks

The European Union and the United States will co-host an international symposium on dismantling transnational illicit networks from May 17-19, 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal. Participants will include the EU and its Member States, countries of West Africa and the Western Hemisphere, and other international and regional organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), INTERPOL, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Tackling cross-border tax problems: Commission launches consultation on taxing dividends

Today, the Commission (DG Taxation and Customs) has launched a public consultation, calling for feedback on problems that arise with regard to the taxation of dividends paid cross-border to individuals or small shareholders in the EU. The tax regimes that are currently applicable to cross-border dividend payments may be causing problems for the Internal Market through double taxation and discriminatory treatment. The public consultation, which will be open for contributions until 30/04/2011, is part of the Commission's wider work to assess where taxation may be holding back the Single Market, and the possible solutions to address this (see IP/10/1751 and IP/10/1390). On the basis of the feedback from the consultation launched today, the Commission will decide how best to proceed on this issue. For more details please see the consultation paper:

Commission publishes figures on the distribution of CAP direct aid in 2009

Indicative figures on the distribution of CAP direct farm payments by Member State and by size-class of aid received for the Financial Year 2009 have been published by the Commission today. The figures have been derived from the EAGF (European Agricultural Guarantee Fund) payment data received from the Member States. The figures are available on the DG AGRI website at:

Commission approves prolongation of Hungarian subsidised guarantee scheme for real economy

The European Commission has authorised under EU state aid rules a twelve-month extension until 31 December 2011 of a temporary Hungarian scheme to grant subsidised guarantees for investment and working capital loans to firms. The extended scheme does not apply to companies in difficulty and excludes working capital loans for large companies from the benefit of the subsidised guarantee premium. The Commission therefore found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 24 February 2009 (see IP/09/647), to be in line with the stricter conditions of its Temporary Framework for businesses' access to finance during the crisis, adopted in December 2010, to stimulate a gradual return to market conditions (see IP/10/1636).

Household saving rate down to 13.8% in the euro area and 11.5% in the EU27

In the third quarter of 2010, in both the euro area (EA16) and the EU27, the seasonally adjusted household saving rate continued to decrease, while the household investment rate remained unchanged at a low level. In the euro area, the household saving rate decreased due to an increase in real final consumption, while real disposable income fell slightly. This decrease in real disposable income was mainly the result of a slower growth of nominal wages than of the prices of goods and services. These data come from a detailed set of quarterly European sector accounts1 released by Eurosta and the European Central Bank (ECB).

Business investment rate nearly stable at 20.5% in the euro area and 20.0% in the EU27

In the third quarter of 2010, in both the euro area (EA16) and the EU27, the seasonally adjusted business investment rate remained stable at low levels, while the profit share grew. In the euro area, the business profit share continued to recover, as value added increased faster than wage costs. Stocks increased for the second quarter in a row, after five quarters of continuous destocking. These data come from a detailed set of quarterly European sector accounts released by Eurostat and the European Central Bank (ECB).

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