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EXME 11 / 14.04
Midday Express of 2011-04-14
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
14/ 04 / 11
The European Commission has approved an application from Belgium for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The € 9 593 931 requested by the Belgian authorities is to help 2,834 workers made redundant by General Motors Belgium - and four of its suppliers and downstream producers - back into employment. The application will now be sent to the European Parliament and the Council (the EU's Budgetary Authority) for approval.
Commissioner Šemeta encourages customs cooperation at the Eastern border of the EU (Hungary)
Commissioner Šemeta, in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud opened this morning a High-Level Seminar hosted by the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in Budapest, under the Customs 2013 Programme. The event gathers the Directors-General and other representatives of customs administrations from EU Member States and the European Commission, Candidate countries and the Eastern neighbours of the EU (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine) as well as Serbia. The aim of the Seminar is to enhance and further develop customs cooperation at the Eastern Border of the EU through consensus on a coherent and comprehensive framework. Three strategic priorities have been defined for the Seminar: (i) ensuring smooth and safe trade lanes, (ii) developing more effective risk management and fight against fraud and (iii) investing in customs modernisation. In this context, Commissioner Šemeta will highlight the specific challenge of tobacco smuggling, encouraging experts to share experiences on how best to curb worrying trends. It is estimated that the EU and Member States lose up to € 10 billion in unpaid taxes every year from illicit trade. In addition, it is acknowledged that tobacco smuggling undermines public health initiatives aimed at curbing smoking. Participants will also discuss practical ways to improve customs cooperation in the region and could envisage several actions, ranging from the approximation of legislations and procedures, the facilitation and simplification of controls at borders to options for EU financial support for external border projects. Commissioner Šemeta will use the opportunity of his visit to exchange views on current and forthcoming initiatives with senior officials of national authorities in charge of tax, customs, anti-fraud and audit, as well as with key Members of the Hungarian Parliament.
Brussels, 14 April - The European Commission today launches a public consultation on the future strategy of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) following the success of its initial phase. The consultation will feed into a 'strategic innovation agenda' for the EIT which the Commission is due to propose by the end of this year. The agenda will outline the Institute's main priorities until 2020, focusing on the Institute's mission and objectives, funding and future themes. The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, who is responsible for the EIT, will announce the consultation at a conference in Budapest.
Culture plays a significant role in the daily life of European citizens, and statistics can help to illustrate cultural behaviour in the EU as well as cross-cultural contacts. How many students in the EU study arts? How many writers and artists are there in the EU? Has the price of cultural goods and services increased more than the average over recent years? What percentage of the population in the EU read a book or a newspaper in a foreign language? Answers to these questions on culture and to many more can be found in the publication Cultural statistics, released by Eurostat. The publication includes chapters on cultural employment, enterprises and external trade, cultural expenditure and participation as well as a chapter on cultural sites and museums.
Commission clears acquisition of joint control of two solar parks by Good Energies and NIBC European Infrastructure
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by Good Energies and NIBC European Infrastructure Fund of FIWA II, FIWA III and FIWA II + III Umspannwerk of Germany. FIWA II, FIWA III and Umspannwerk hold and operate two solar parks located at Finsterwalde, Germany. Good Energies is controlled by Avenia, a company registered in Switzerland, active in retail, real estate, financial services and private equity investments. NIBC European Infrastructure Fund of The Netherlands is a provider of financial services and is ultimately controlled by NEW NIB Limited (USA). The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears joint-venture by Samsung LED and Sumitomo Chemical
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint-venture by Samsung LED Co., Ltd., of Korea, and Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., of Japan which will produce, initially, sapphire substrates and, eventually, a variety of advanced chemicals and materials for LED (Light Emitting Diode) applications in Korea. Samsung LED is active in the development and manufacture of LED technologies. Sumitomo Chemical is a company active mainly in the chemical sectors. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission authorises Lithuania and Slovakia to extend transitional periods for the acquisition of agricultural land
The European Commission, in response to formal requests from both member states, has decided today to grant Lithuania and Slovakia a three-year extension of their transitional period for the acquisition of agricultural land by EU citizens other than Lithuanian and Slovak citizens respectively and legal entities not registered in the respective countries. On the basis of the 2003 Act of Accession both countries were originally granted a seven-year transitional period as an exception to EU law that provides for the free movement of capital. Today's extensions were granted after a careful analysis of the information and data submitted, which justified the threat of serious disturbances to the agricultural land markets in the event of lifting the restrictions. However, the Commission calls on Lithuania and Slovakia to speed up their efforts to complete their ongoing agricultural structural reforms and to progressively loosen the restrictions on foreign ownership during the remaining transitional period, in order to better prepare their markets for full liberalisation. Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia have requested an extension of their transitional periods for another three-year period. Following the Decision of 20 December 2010 granting an extension of the transitional period to Hungary, the European Commission adopted a decision granting similar extensions to Latvia on 7 April 2011. More information: MEMO/11/244 http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/capital/reports/index_en.htm
Réunis à Luxembourg, les ministres des vingt-sept États membres de l’Union européenne ont approuvé aujourd’hui la Stratégie de l’Union pour la région Danube, stratégie adoptée par la Commission européenne en décembre dernier ( IP/10/1687) et dont les préparatifs d’application sont déjà en cours. Quelque deux cents actions prioritaires contribueront à l’exploitation de l’énorme potentiel économique de la région et à l’amélioration de son environnement.
Avec le ministre colombien du commerce et le vice-ministre péruvien du commerce extérieur, le commissaire européen au commerce, Karel De Gucht, s’est félicité ce jour du paraphe de l’accord commercial entre l’UE, la Colombie et le Pérou. Cet accord ambitieux qui, selon les estimations, permettra d’économiser des droits de douane d’un montant total d’un demi-milliard d’euros, ouvrira les marchés de chacune des régions et renforcera la stabilité et la prévisibilité de l’environnement commercial.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton today on behalf of the European Union signed an Agreement with Prime Minister Fayyad that gives all agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediate duty free access to the EU market. The only exception from full liberalisation is the specific duty for imports of fruit and vegetables under the entry price system. This duty will remain applicable if these entry prices are not respected.
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