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EXME 11 / 03.10
Midday Express of 2011-10-03
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
The European Commission has launched two public consultations related to access for alternative operators to the fixed telephone and broadband networks of established operators. The consultations are part of Commission efforts to boost the Single Market for telecoms services by ensuring consistent and coherent approaches to regulating telephone and broadband networks in all Member States.
The EU Aid for the Needy scheme, which provides food for as many as 18 million of the EU's most deprived citizens, faces a drastic cut in spending next year following a Court ruling in April. In a further effort to overcome the deadlock in the Council of Ministers and maintain the food distribution programme at current levels, the European Commission has today put forward a second amended proposal to provide an impetus for a political agreement and to allow the successful food distribution scheme to continue in 2012 and 2013, as well as in the future. The amendments proposed today will add a second legal base, namely social cohesion, reflecting the scheme's important social dimension. A further change is to remove the proposed provision for co-financing the scheme in future. Earlier proposals to avoid this problem were tabled by the Commission in 2008 and 2010 have been backed by the European Parliament and a number of Member States, but the dossier remains blocked in the Council.
The EU invests €30 million to understand the epigenome - a link between genes, environment and health
BLUEPRINT, a new large-scale EU funded research project, has been launched to advance the knowledge of the epigenome, contributing to the further development of 'personalised medicine'. BLUEPRINT will be the European cornerstone of an international research cooperation effort – the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC). The project has a total budget of close to € 40 million of which € 30 million comes from the EU. The project includes 41 leading European universities, research institutes and industry entrepreneurs. BLUEPRINT aims to deliver high impact results that can be integrated in existing medical products and technologies. How can understanding the epigenome lead to better health? Our genes may produce the ingredients that make us who and what we are, but it is the recipe – or epigenetics – that determines how those ingredients are put together. Epigenetics is the study of various factors which affect gene expression – whether a gene is switched on or off – and it can tell us why stem cells can develop into any cell in our bodies or why certain diseases or processes of aging occur. The epigenome can change according to an individual's environment, and is passed from generation to generation. It is presumed to play a major role in health and heredity. Since epigenetic changes are reversible, they could be targets for the development of novel and more individualised and therefore more effective medical treatments for various serious diseases, including cancer. For more information about the projects and participants, please click here . For more information on IHEC, please click here . To view a full press release, please click here .
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn meets with Minister Wauquiez to discuss a new era for European research.
On 3 and 4 October, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will visit Paris. On 4 October, the Commissioner will meet with the recently appointed Minister of Higher Education and Research, Laurent Wauquiez, to discuss Europe's efforts to exit the economic crisis and move towards a smarter, greener and more competitive economy, with the Innovation Union at its heart. They will discuss ways to foster the creation of a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation, the European Research Area. The Commissioner will present the state-of-play on the preparation of the Horizon 2020 legislative package and invite the French Government and stakeholders to participate in the consultation just launched on the European Research Area. She will also take this opportunity to meet with researchers and industrial leaders in addition to visiting successful EU research projects at the Pasteur Institute, Neurospin and the Laboratories of the Thales/ Ecole Polytechnique.
Two major contributions to ensuring the necessary investment in broadband internet infrastructure, and so meeting Europe's 2020 high-speed broadband targets, were today set out by European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes. In a speech to European Telecoms Network Operators, Kroes first set out ideas on how the relative prices for regulated wholesale access to copper and fibre networks could be adjusted so as to limit risks and make investment in "next generation" fibre networks more attractive - an issue on which a public consultation is being launched today. Second, Kroes outlined proposed EU funding to leverage up to €100 billion in investment in broadband internet infrastructure. Kroes stressed that precisely because of the current financial crisis, Europe needs investment in broadband infrastructure to ensure our future competitiveness and prosperity. "Over just ten years, if we get it right, broadband development could give Europe over one trillion euros in additional economic activity, and create millions of jobs". Kroes also underlined the importance of retaining an open, robust best-efforts internet, but expressed regret at "unilateral" action under consideration in The Netherlands on this issue; "acting quickly and without reflection can be counterproductive", restricting innovative offers and potentially raising prices. "We must act on the basis of facts, not passion."
The economic crisis has made it more difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access banking credit. The proportion of unsuccessful loan applications rose between 2007 and 2010 in 19 of the 20 Member States for which data are available. The largest increases in unsuccessful loan applications were observed in Bulgaria (from 3% in 2007 to 36% in 2010), Ireland (from 1% to 27%) and Latvia (from 4% to 26%). Unsuccessful applications fell only in Sweden (from 9% to 6%). In 2010, the highest percentages of unsuccessful applications were found in Bulgaria (36%), Ireland (27%), Latvia (26%), the Netherlands (23%), Lithuania and the United Kingdom (both 21%), and the lowest in Finland (0.2%), Malta (2%), Cyprus and Poland (both 4%) and Italy (5%). These data are issued by Eurostat and are based on a survey covering 25 000 businesses across the EU, also including information on fast-growing enterprises, the future financing needs of SMEs and perceived factors limiting business growth in the future. These data are released in connection with the European SME week 20114 which takes place on 3-9 October in 37 European countries.
Commissioner Piebalgs in Paris to discuss his proposals to increase the impact of EU Development Policy
On Monday (3/10), Andris Piebalgs, EU Development Commissioner, will visit Pairs and meet with Henri De Raincourt, Minister of Development Cooperation and with André Parant, Africa advisor of President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Commissioner will present his upcoming proposals to increase the impact of EU development policy and discuss with the French Ministers the positions ahead of the Busan conference on aid effectiveness. In addition, the leaders will debate about the situation in the world, with focus on the countries in crisis such as Somalia or with demanding development needs (South Sudan).
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of important parts of the "over-the-counter" (OTC) business of the pharmaceutical company Teva of Israel by the US company Procter & Gamble (P&G). The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns, because the merged entity would continue to face sufficient competition in the markets concerned.
The EU and Brazil will meet at the highest level on the occasion of the 5th EU-Brazil Summit that will take place in Brussels on 4 October. The Summit’s agenda covers cover global, regional and bilateral issues. Leaders will be discussing, among other issues, climate change and the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the international financial and economic situation and the G20 process, cooperation in the multilateral context and human rights, energy, Mercosur and the on-going negotiations for an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, and investment and trade. Leaders will also exchange views on the political situation in some regions of the world, like North Africa and the Middle East.
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