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EXME 11 / 25.03
Midday Express of 2011-03-25
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
Dans le cadre du Partenariat stratégique conjoint UE-Afrique, Andris Piebalgs, Commissaire européen au développement, et Michel Barnier, Commissaire responsable du marché intérieur et services, assisteront à la réunion annuelle des Ministres de la finance et de l'économie de l'Union africaine le 28 et le 29 mars à Addis Abeba (Éthiopie). Le thème principal de la réunion sera « la Gouvernance du développement en Afrique ». Les discussions porteront sur le rôle de l'État, les perspectives de développement durable à long terme par l'intégration économique et la croissance verte. Les Commissaires confirmeront le soutien de l'Union européenne aux efforts de l'Afrique pour assurer une gouvernance efficace de l'économie aux niveaux national et régional, une croissance économique redistribuée équitablement et respectueuse de l'environnement, ainsi que leur agenda commun dans la gouvernance économique mondiale. Les Commissaires rencontreront également Jean Ping, Président de la Commission de l'Union africaine, notamment pour faire le point sur les récents développements en Afrique du Nord et en Côte d'Ivoire, ainsi que pour préparer l'avenir des relations UE-Afrique. Ils rencontreront aussi le Commissaire de l'Union africaine Lamamra pour aborder le sujet de paix et de sécurité, notamment en Somalie et en Côte d'Ivoire.
A European Union initiative to improve coordination of investment in the Western Balkans has resulted in international donors and financial institutions approving support for 73 projects worth over €6 billion in 2010. The first annual report of the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), published today, details the new aid framework's contribution to economic development in the region.
The Commission has tabled yesterday a series of measures intended to provide sugar operators in the EU with predictability for the next marketing year starting from October 2011. The package fixes a quantitative limit for the exports of out-of-quota sugar (650 000 tonnes) and isoglucose (50 000 tonnes) for the marketing year 2011/12. It also includes the opening of an import quota of 400 000 tonnes for industrial sugar. With these measures, sugar operators received a strong signal that it is attractive to grow and produce sugar. The proposals were backed by Member States yesterday in the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets, which delivered a positive opinion.
European Research Council (ERC) launches new type of grant to help get groundbreaking research to market
The European Research Council (ERC) is today launching a new funding initiative, called “Proof of Concept”, that will contribute to stimulating innovation. Up to € 150 000 per grant is to be made available to researchers already holding ERC grants to bridge the gap between their research and the earliest stage of a marketable innovation. This will help get groundbreaking research funded by the ERC to market and thus help ensure Europe gets the benefit in terms of growth and jobs. Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "ERC funded frontier research sometimes yields spin-offs with immediate commercial potential and Proof of Concept funding will help get them safely across the 'valley of death' into which good ideas often plunge due to lack of capital to bring them to market." ERC grant holders will be able to use Proof of Concept funding for activities such as technical validation, market research, clarifying intellectual property rights, or investigating commercial and business opportunities. In this way they will be able to prepare a "package" to be presented to venture capitalists or companies that may want to invest in this technology and take it through the early phase of commercialisation. The first "call for proposals" (invitation to apply) for Proof of Concept funding will be published on 29 March with deadlines in June and November 2011. Set up in 2007 on the initiative of the European Commission, the European Research Council is the first pan-European funding organisation for frontier research. It aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the best researchers of any nationality and age. More details at: http://erc.europa.eu/
Commissioners Geoghehan-Quinn and Dalli meet with Director-General of the World Health Organisation
Today, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of The World Health Organisation (WHO) met with Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner, John Dalli, and Research Commissioner Máire Geoghehan-Quinn. Dr Chan was accompanied by her senior management, including the heads of her regional offices for Europe, Africa and the Americas. The purpose of Dr Chan's visit is to identify areas of possible strategic collaboration between the European Commission and the World Health Organisation. In September 2010, Commissioner Dalli and the Regional Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe made a joint Declaration on how they saw mutual collaboration as helping European Member States to improve the health status of their citizens. Six particular areas of cooperation were identified: investing in health, in-country collaboration, health security, health inequalities, innovation and research, and health information. Today's meeting aims to further build on the Declaration to translate joint priorities into concrete joint deliverables. For more information about the EU in the world, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/health/eu_world/international_organisations/index_en.htm http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/index_en.html
Brussels Tax Forum: a wide debate on the taxation of the financial sector
Next Monday, Commissioner Šemeta responsible for Taxation will open the Brussels Tax Forum. This annual conference brings together policy makers, experts and academics to discuss important tax issues. The focus will this year be on the Taxation of the Financial Sector and on how to ensure that financial sector makes a fair contribution to public finances in the current economic climate. The Pact for the Euro underlined how important coordination of tax policies is to foster competitiveness. In order to properly address the taxation of the financial sector coordination is crucial. Mrs. Sharon Bowles, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Economic and Budgetary Committee and Mr. Ádám Balog, Hungarian Deputy State Secretary for Taxation Affairs will participate in these high level discussions. Their outcome will be essential in helping the Commission to define policy options before summer break. The Forum will take place in Brussels, Charlemagne Building, on 28 and 29 March 2011. Speakers of the opening session will give a press conference on 28 March 2011, at 15h15 Salle Durieux (Charlemagne Building). For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/gen_info/tax_conferences/tax_forum/index_en.htm
Commissioner Hedegaard to visit Riga and Stockholm for climate talks
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will visit Budapest today to participate in the informal meeting of Environment Ministers on 25-26 March. Next week she will visit Riga and Stockholm on 28 and 29 March respectively for talks on a range of climate change issues with government ministers and other stakeholders. In Riga, Commissioner Hedegaard will meet Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovkis and have a working lunch with Raimonds Vejonis, Minister for environment and regional development. She will also hold meetings with representatives of the business community and non-governmental organisations. In Stockholm, the Climate Action Commissioner will meet Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt. She will give a keynote speech, in the presence of King Carl Gustav, at a conference on the green economy organised by the International Chamber of Commerce. Commissioner Hedegaard will also address the Swedish Parliament's environment and agriculture committee and meet students and teachers at the Royal Institute of Technology. Among other issues the discussions in both countries will cover the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, adopted by the European Commission on 8 March (see IP/11/272), and how the EU's next multiannual financial framework can best support climate action.
Chief Information Officers are a driving force of the Digital Agenda
Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes will today present the first European Chief Information Officer awards, sponsored by INSEAD and CIOnet, and urge CIOs to use their boardroom power to help drive the digital single market. Speaking in Brussels, Mrs Kroes will say that CIOs are a driving force of the Digital Agenda, but only if they work together, for example by using their collective purchasing power to shift markets and improve how the public sector functions. "Your strategic role in wider business processes is clearly growing – and that is something the whole business world needs to understand and respect." "Your procurement choices matter. Your purchasing power and knowledge can be the difference between competitive and uncompetitive markets." Kroes will also ask for ideas from CIOs about how to simplify Europe's web of national compliance regimes on issues like privacy, interoperability, cloud computing and security. See SPEECH/11/214 - EMBARGO 14h00 CET
In order to further limit possible risks to the safety of its Food Chain, the European Union decided today to reinforce controls on imports of food and feed from certain regions of Japan, where production could be affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Member States endorsed, at a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), a Commission proposal to impose special import conditions. The measures apply to all feed and food originating in or consigned from 12 prefectures of Japan,1 including the four most affected by the accident. All products from these prefectures have to be tested before leaving Japan and will be subject to random testing in the EU. Feed and food products from the remaining 35 prefectures will have to be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin and will be randomly tested upon arrival in the EU. The Union will review these measures every month.
Vice-President Tajani met today with Mr. Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO and Chairman of UN Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group in view of next week summit of African Industrial Ministers to be held in Algiers on 30 and 31 March and organised by the African Union (AU) and UNIDO.
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