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Midday Express of 2011-05-18

European Commission - MEX/11/0518   18/05/2011

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EXME 11 / 18.05

Midday Express of 2011-05-18

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

Commission seeks views on reducing plastic bag use

The European Commission is asking the public how best to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags. It will ask if charging and taxation would be effective, or if other options such as an EU-level ban on plastic carrier bags would be better. Opinions will also be sought on increasing the visibility of biodegradable packaging products, and boosting the biodegradability requirements for packaging. The web-based consultation runs until August 2011.

EU-China students swap language and career tips

During European Youth Week, students from the EU and China will take part in the 2011 EU-China multilingualism conference on 19 May in Brussels. The aim is to promote best practices for language learning and to strengthen mutual understanding. Workshops will focus on the link between language skills and careers, new ways of learning languages and intercultural dialogue. EU-China co-operation is already strong in the field of education. There are currently about 120,000 Chinese students in the EU, most of them studying economics/business and technology/engineering. Around 25,000 EU citizens are currently studying in China; most of them are on short-term mobility programmes in the fields of economics/business and on language courses. The EU-China multilingualism conference is organised as part of the 2011 EU-China Year of Youth. The conference is open to the media (venue: Albert Borschette Conference Centre-Rue Froissart 36, 1040 Brussels). To find out more: 2011 EU-China year of youth ; http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/pdf/doc5038_en.pdf

European Commission completes quarterly review of EU/IMF financial assistance programme to Ireland, and authorises the release of the second instalment.

Following a joint EC/ECB/IMF review mission in Dublin during 5-15 April, the Commission has assessed Ireland's programme implementation vis-a-vis specific economic conditionality for the first quarter of 2011. Ireland's programme is on track. Agreed fiscal targets were met for 2010, and the fiscal data so far in 2011 suggests that the 2011 10.6% of GDP deficit target, is within reach. A comprehensive strategy to recapitalize, restructure and refocus the viable domestic banks was announced by the Irish authorities in the wake of a comprehensive and appropriately conservative stress test, conducted by the Central Bank of Ireland with the support of independent advisors and in close consultations with programme partners. Moreover, important steps were taken towards the achievement of the programme's structural reform objectives, e.g. with the launching of an independent review of sectoral labour arrangements. In their report, Commission services praise the new government for their commitment to the programme objectives and the progress made so far, while pointing out that going forward continued strict programme implementation, including of planned reforms to the fiscal framework, is key to assuage lingering concerns on Ireland's debt dynamics, as reflected by still elevated spreads on Irish government bonds on the secondary market. The completion of the review makes available to Ireland a further EUR 3 billion, to be summed to the EUR 12 billion disbursed so far. The overall EU financial assistance to Ireland (including through bilateral loans from UK, Sweden, and Denmark) amounts to EUR 45 billion over a period of 3 years. The report is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/ publications/occasional_paper/2011/op78_en.htm

Commission assesses the Pre-Accession Economic Programmes of the five candidate countries

The European Commission has examined the candidate countries' Pre-accession Economic Programmes (PEPs) 2011-2013.The macroeconomic conditions of the candidate countries in 2010 showed signs of recovery in general as the economies continued to shed the adverse effects of the global crisis. Economic activity improved at varying speeds, but fell short of taking up the slack in the labour markets. Inflation relented, while external imbalances narrowed in most countries. Looking forward, the macroeconomic frameworks of all candidate countries anticipate a positive economic growth in 2011 and a further acceleration in 2012 and 2013, mainly driven by domestic demand. All five programmes foresee a continuous decline in fiscal deficits as a result of expenditure-led consolidations, with Montenegro and Iceland projecting a budget surplus by 2013. nnually the candidate countries1[1] submit their programmes which include a medium-term macroeconomic scenario, a fiscal framework, and a structural reform. Programmes were submitted by Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and, for the first time this year, Iceland and Montenegro. On the basis of the Commission's assessment, the Ministerial Meeting between the ECOFIN Council and their counterparts from the candidate countries took place on 17 May. The Commission assessment of the candidate countries' programmes is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2011/pdf/ocp79_en.pdf

Construction output down by 0.3% in euro area

In the construction sector, seasonally adjusted production fell by 0.3% in the euro area (EA17), but rose by 1.9% in the EU27 in March 2011, compared with the previous month. In February, production decreased by 0.8% in the euro area and rose by 1.4% in the EU27. Cpared with March 2010, output in March 2011 dropped by 4.9% in the euro area and by 2.7% in the EU27. hese first estimates are released by Eurostat.

Rediffusion

Peru: EU to observe the presidential elections

The European Union is deploying an Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the second round of the presidential elections in Peru, scheduled to take place on 5 June 2011. Led by Jose Ignacio Salafranca, Member of the European Parliament, more than 70 observers will assess pre-election preparations and campaign all over Peru, voting, counting and tabulation of the results of the Election Day, as well as the post-election period.

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva calls for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of Gaza Strip crossings

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva has highlighted the dramatic and far-reaching effects of the blockade of the Gaza Strip. As the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response has just seen for herself, the blockade exacerbates the predicament of a large number of Palestinians, and hinders the flow of humanitarian aid, persons and commercial goods to and from the Gaza Strip.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 19 May 2011, Brussels - rediffusion

Antitrust: Commission confirms unannounced inspections in the container liner shipping sector - rediffusion

Digital Agenda: European research behind the Future Internet

Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (19-20 May)

Statement by President Barroso at the "Youth on the Move - Make it Happen" event – rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso at the Brussels Economic Forum " A European economy fit for the future"

Remarks by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President following her meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - rediffusion

Speech by Vice President Almunia "A new decade for the International Competition Network"

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