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EXME 11 / 28.06
Midday Express of 2011-06-28
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The European Commission today approved four applications from the Netherlands for assistance from the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The applications will now be put before the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union for decision. If approved, the € 5.8 million requested will help 1,764 workers made redundant by 101 enterprises in the printing sector back into employment.
Thirteen photonics research projects are being launched in the field of high-speed fibre broadband networks with the aim of developing technologies to deliver super fast internet speeds to the home in excess of 1 Gigabit per second. The projects were jointly selected in 2010 by the European Commission, Austria, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom and Israel, who are together paying a total of €22.3 million towards them. The research projects will run for two to three years. Giving every European access to fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020 and boosting investment in European information and communications technology research are key objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581 , MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).
A key expert group set up by the Commission today set out guidelines on giving European industry a competitive edge in deploying the industrial technologies of the future (Key Enabling Technologies). The main conclusions call on decision-makers to adopt radical policy objectives to retain critical capability and capacity in Europe through a single and comprehensive approach to KETs. In particular, the group recommends that the vital importance of KETs should be reflected in the structure and funding balance in the upcoming framework for research and innovation and in the priorities of the EU's future regional policy. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani warned that Europe’s industry "would suffer losses in competitiveness", if it fails to successfully exploit the six following important KETs (micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology, photonics, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing systems). "Europe's innovation depends on the development and growth of Key Enabling Technologies. We need to focus our policies better and align them to create more synergies between our instruments to boost Europe's capabilities in the area of KETS. I am convinced KET's follow-through applications will allow Europe to create more jobs and growth. The commitment of private stakeholders to investing in Europe will also be vital for success", he said. Technological research and product demonstration projects should be given a high priority. Further recommendations cover the combination of funding mechanisms at EU and national level and a set of actions to enhance technological skills in Europe. An "in Europe first" Intellectual Property policy is called for and a monitoring mechanism to analyse market developments on KETs is also proposed. The Commission will report back on the policy recommendations in a communication at the beginning of 2012.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard are meeting today with the shipping industry, Member States and the European Parliament to discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping in the short, medium and long term. In particular, they will look at how international negotiations can be moved forward.
In 2010, price levels for consumer goods and services1 differed widely across Member States. Denmark (143% of the EU27 average) had the highest price level, followed by Finland (123%). Price levels of 10% to 20% above the EU27 average were found in Luxembourg and Sweden (both 120%), Ireland (118%) Belgium and France (both 112%), while Austria (107%), the Netherlands (106%), Germany and Italy (both 104%) were around 5% above the average. The United Kingdom (100%) was on the EU27 average. Spain (97% of the EU27 average) and Greece (96%) were just below the average, while Cyprus (89%), Portugal (88%) and Slovenia (84%) were between 10% and 20% below. Price levels between 20% and 30% below the average were observed in Malta (79%), Estonia (75%), the Czech Republic (72%) and Slovakia (71%), and levels between 30% and 40% below in Latvia (69%), Hungary (65%), Lithuania and Poland (both 63%). The lowest price levels were found in Bulgaria (51%) and Romania (59%).
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, today set out her initial thoughts on high-level "Internet essentials - imperatives to ensure that the Internet remains a success". Building on and referring to work already initiated by the G8, OECD and others, she presented some key ideas which together form a "Compact for the Internet". The Internet, said Ms Kroes, should be a place of Civic responsibility; should be One Internet rather than fragmented; should be governed by Multistakeholder processes; and should be Pro-democracy, Architecturally sound, inspiring the Confidence of users, and Transparently governed. Speaking to the OECD's High-Level Meeting on the Internet Economy in Paris, she stressed that the Compact was neither a call for increased regulation, nor a set of "cyber-commandments"; but rather pragmatic guidelines to ensure that "as the Internet develops into new areas, we do not lose its essential characteristics…. principles on their own won't get us to our destination, but at least we'll be able to set sail." The work to develop and refine the Compact will continue ahead of the Nairobi Internet Governance Forum in September, alongside work on specific new challenges such as how the Internet of Things should be governed.
Commission approves creation of joint venture between Dana and Bosch Rexroth
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture by Dana Holding Corporation of the United States and Bosch Rexroth, which is part of the German Bosch Group. Dana is active in the manufacture and sale of automotive and truck components. Bosch Rexroth manufactures and sells drive and control solutions for a range of industries. The joint venture, to be known as Dana Rexroth Transmission Services, will manufacture and market a new type of transmission for off-highway vehicles. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears acquisition of Irish Life International by Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB.
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Irish Life International Limited an Irish insurance company by SEB Trygg Liv Holding AB, controlled by Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, a Swedish financial group active in retail banking, merchant banking, wealth management, and life insurance. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
State aid: Commission approves second extension of a winding-up scheme for credit institutions in Denmark
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a six-month extension (until 31 December 2011) of a winding-up scheme for credit institutions in Denmark. The extended scheme entails amended commitments for the banks falling under the scheme. The Commission found the extension of the scheme, initially approved on 30 September 2010 (see IP/10/1266) and prolonged on 7 December 2010 until end of June 2011 (see MEX/10/1207), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the extended measures are limited to the minimum necessary to ensure an orderly wind-up. They can therefore be considered as an appropriate means for remedying a serious disturbance in the Danish economy in line with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of the Polish support scheme for financial institutions
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a six months prolongation until 31 December 2011 and an extension in scope of the Polish support scheme for financial institutions. The scheme covers guarantees and other liquidity support measures in favour of different types of financial institutions in Poland. The scope of eligible beneficiaries is extended to cover in full also cooperative credit and savings institutions. The Commission found the prolongation and scope extension of the scheme, initially approved on 25 September 2009 (see IP/09/1360) and prolonged on 9 February 2010 (see MEX/10/0209).), 29 June 2010 (see IP/10/864) and 16 December 2010 (see MEX/10/1216), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/08/1901). In particular, the measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Polish economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of the Polish bank recapitalisation scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a six months prolongation until 31 December 2011 of the Polish bank recapitalisation scheme. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 21 December 2009 (see IP/09/253) and prolonged on 5 July 2010 and 16 December 2010 (see MEX/10/1216), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 and IP/10/1636). In particular, the prolonged measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope and it requires the presentation of a restructuring plan if a recapitalisation takes place. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Polish economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Three hazardous substances added to Rotterdam Convention
The European Commission welcomes the listing of the hazardous substances alachlor, aldicarb and endosulfan under the Rotterdam Convention, the global treaty that regulates trade in hazardous substances. The agreement was reached during the 5th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Geneva last week. Consensus on the listing of endosulfan was reached thanks to India now supporting. To the great disappointment of the vast majority of parties no progress was made on the listing of chrysotile asbestos, even though it meets all legal and technical criteria established by the Convention and was on the agenda for the third time. But the number of opposing countries is diminishing, raising hopes that it will be listed next time, protecting developing countries against this highly toxic substance. The meeting succeeded in adopting a budget and work programme for 2012-2013 and a decision that formalizes and improves cooperation and coordination with the Basel Convention (on waste) and the Stockholm Convention (on persistent organic pollutants) aiming at gaining synergies amongst the three conventions. The meeting also paved the way for improved implementation of the Rotterdam Convention by requesting the Convention Secretariat to take steps to enhance communication between the Parties and increase the number of so-called 'notifications of final regulatory action'. It is these notifications that trigger the inclusion of chemicals in the Convention. The Commission regrets that no agreement was reached on a compliance mechanism. The Rotterdam Convention is a global treaty addressing the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides. It facilitates the exchange of information on those chemicals and gives countries the right to refuse imports of certain chemicals which they cannot manage safely. This is known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure.
More than 28.000 pieces/pairs of counterfeit textile products and accessories entering the EU by road via its Eastern border have been confiscated as a result of joint Customs operation (JCO) "Fireblade". During the operational phase, large consignments of counterfeit goods, cigarettes and perfumes were detained in several EU countries thanks to enhanced border and inland customs controls.
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