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EXME 11 / 16.09
Midday Express of 2011-09-16
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The Commission proposed today to strengthen the Schengen area to guarantee free movement for the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens and third countries' nationals travelling within this territory every day. The Commission's proposals aim to put in place a more efficient and EU-based approach to Schengen cooperation. Particular challenges that may put the overall functioning of the Schengen area under strain need to be addressed in an effective and coordinated manner. The proposals provide for a stronger EU-based evaluation and monitoring system to verify and ensure the application of the Schengen rules, and for a more structured European decision-making mechanism that could allow for the temporary reintroduction of internal border controls in case of serious threat to public policy or internal security.
Commission holds consultation on the texts of the new rules for Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI)
The European Commission today publishes the proposals for the new texts regarding the application of state aid rules to Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) for consultation of Member States and stakeholders before submitting a final text to the College. The new rules are expected to be adopted by the end of January 2012. The Commission has already consulted extensively on the revision of the so-called Monti-Kroes package of rules applying to services that are of general interest but of economic nature, in other words where public and private sector cohabit. In his speeches on the subject, Vice President Almunia has said that the main objective is to have clearer and simpler rules to make life easier for the public authorities and the service providers. To put less emphasis on local services that often involve small compensation amounts and focus more on the services that have a cross-border impact. He plans to extend the range of social services that are exempted from prior scrutiny - currently only hospitals and social housing benefit from such safe haven - and to introduce a specific de minimis rule to exclude the very small and local services. The ultimate goal is to contribute to making services of general economic interest more efficient, including because public finances in many countries are in need of repair and taxpayers' money should be carefully spent. For draft texts see:
Making progress towards gender equality - 19-20 September
The European Commission will hold a conference on 19-20 September to debate key gender equality issues at EU level, as set out in the EU's current strategy for gender equality for 2010-15. It will be an opportunity to explore why progress on eliminating gender inequalities has been slow and how further progress can be made. It will bring together policy makers from European, national and international level as well as equality bodies, social partners and NGOs. The conference will take place in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission (170 Rue de la Loi, Bruxelles). Journalists are free to attend - registration is not necessary. Further information can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/gender-equality/events/110919_en.htm
Europe urgently needs to address the social dimension of higher education more forcefully and coherently, particularly in view of the economic downturn. This is the conclusion of a new Commission report looking at national policies on access to higher education, funding and student support. The report, covering EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey, provides input for the Commission's new strategy for the modernisation of higher education, to be launched on 20 September.
The European Commission will provide €10 million in emergency relief to the victims of the monsoon floods in Pakistan. The disaster has already killed more than 200 people, and over 280,000 others have been registered in some 2,000 camps established to accommodate the internally displaced. The Commission's humanitarian assistance will reach out to the victims, bringing them shelter, food, water and healthcare.
Commissioner Hedegaard to visit New York for high-level meetings
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, will visit New York from 18 to 22 September for a series of high-level meetings in connection with the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Many of the meetings will help to prepare the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year. On 18-19 September Commissioner Hedegaard will participate in a meeting of the High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, which has been mandated to formulate a global blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity ahead of the 'Rio +20' UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012. Commissioner Hedegaard was appointed to the Global Sustainability Panel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon when he created it last year. On 20 September the Climate Commissioner will speak at a meeting of the Troika of Women Leaders on Gender and Climate Change, hosted by former Irish President Mary Robinson, and at a "Leaders' Dialogue" on climate change hosted by Mexico and South Africa, the hosts of the 2010 and 2011 UN climate conferences, respectively. The focus will be on what can be achieved at the Durban conference. Commissioner Hedegaard will also take part in a panel discussion on climate change at the Louise Blouin Creative Leadership Summit. On 22 September Commissioner Hedegaard will hold talks with Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy for Climate Change. During her visit she will also have bilateral meetings with ministers or senior officials from many other countries including Japan, Mali, Tunisia, Nepal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and Nauru.
Hourly labour costs in the euro area (EA17) rose by 3.6% in the year up to the second quarter of 2011, compared with 2.7% for the previous quarter. In the EU27, the annual rise was 3.4% up to the second quarter of 2011, compared with 2.3% for the previous quarter. The two main components of labour costs are wages & salaries and non-wage costs. In the euro area, wages & salaries per hour worked grew by 3.5% in the year up to the second quarter of 2011, and the non-wage component by 4.3%, compared with 2.3% and 3.5% respectively for the first quarter of 2011. In the EU27, hourly wages & salaries rose by 3.2% and the non-wage component by 3.9% in the year up to the second quarter of 2011, compared with 1.9% and 3.0% respectively for the first quarter of 2011.The breakdown by economic activity shows that in the euro area hourly labour costs rose by 4.5% in industry, 2.9% in construction and 3.2% in services in the year up to the second quarter of 2011. In the EU27, labour costs per hour grew by 4.3% in industry, 2.8% in construction and 3.0% in services. These figures are published by Eurostat.
The first estimate for euro area (EA17) trade with the rest of the world in July 2011 gave a 4.3 bn euro surplus, compared with +4.7 bn euro in July 2010. The June 2011 balance was +0.1 bn, compared with +0.4 bn in June 2010. In July 2011 compared with June 2011, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 2.0% and imports by 1.9%. The first estimate for the July 2011 extra-EU27 trade balance was a 8.0 bn euro deficit, compared with -7.5 bn in July 2010. In June 2011 the balance was -12.8 bn, compared with -11.4 bn in June 2010. In July 2011 compared with June 2011, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 3.2% and imports by 1.4%. These data are released by Eurostat.
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