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EXME 11 / 16.11

Midday Express of 2011-11-16

News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing

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

Plant health: EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms

The European Union earmarked today 19 million euros to co-finance programmes in seven Member States aiming to combat organisms harmful to plants and to prevent them from spreading further in the Union and thus from having sever consequences on the internal market. During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH), the Member States endorsed two Commission proposals providing the co-financing (€15 and €4 million respectively) of actions already undertaken in the past or planned to be executed next year.

Tackling low achievement in mathematics and science still a challenge in Europe

Policy-makers need to do more to help schools tackle low achievement in mathematics and science, according to two reports presented by the European Commission today. The report on mathematics education reveals that only five European countries (England, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland and Norway) have set national targets to boost achievement levels, although a majority of EU Member States provide general guidelines to address pupils' difficulties in this area. The report on science shows that no Member States have specific national support policies for low achievers, although five countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France and Poland) have launched programmes to tackle low achievement in general. The reports conclude that although much has been achieved in updating mathematics and science curricula, support for the teachers responsible for implementing the changes is still lacking.

October 2011 - Euro area annual inflation stable at 3.0%. EU up to 3.4%

Euro area annual inflation was 3.0% in October 2011, unchanged compared with September. A year earlier the rate was 1.9%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in October 2011.EU annual inflation was 3.4% in October 2011, up from 3.3% in September. A year earlier the rate was 2.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in October 2011.

Commissioner Hedegaard attending the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) in Washington DC, United States (16-18 November)

From 16 to 18 November, European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, will attend the Major Economies Forum in Washington DC, United States. It is the last meeting at ministerial level before the Durban conference on climate change, which starts on 28 November. Some key outstanding issues will be discussed at the MEF, such as the legal form of the future global framework for climate action and the future role of the Kyoto protocol; international climate finance for developing countries; how to strengthen the ambition of the current pledges; and a framework for transparency on countries' climate actions. In the margins of the MEF, Commissioner Hedegaard will also have bilateral meetings with a number of representatives. More information:

Enregistrement de trois dénominations de produits agricoles

La Commission européenne a ajouté trois dénominations de produits agricoles et alimentaires à la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP) et indications géographiques protégées (IGP). Il s'agit du saucisson slovène " Šebreljski želodec " (IGP), de la viande séchée slovène " Zgornjesavinjski Želodec " (IGP) et du miel slovène " Kočevski gozdni med " (AOP). Les trois dénominations s'ajoutent à la liste d'environ 1000 produits déjà protégés en vertu de la législation sur la protection des indications géographiques, des appellations d'origine et des spécialités traditionnelles. Des renseignements sur les produits de qualité ainsi que la liste des dénominations protégées sont disponibles sur l'internet à l'adresse:

Agreement between the EU and Norway on additional trade preferences for agricultural products

Following the completion of the respective approval procedures, the EU-Norway agreement on additional trade preferences for agricultural products has been formally concluded and will enter into force on 1 January 2012. This agreement results from the EEA Agreement which provides for regular reviews of conditions of trade in agricultural products in view of progressive liberalisation. It will allow EU exporters to reinforce their position on the Norwegian market. The additional liberalisation represents roughly 20% of the current value of EU exports to Norway. When taking into account already existing bilateral preferences, around 60% of EU exports to Norway will be completely liberalised (in terms of trade value). The exports of EU agricultural products to Norway have been growing over the last decade and doubled between 2000 and 2010 to €1.7 billion. The main features of the agreement are as follows: Concessions granted by Norway to the EU: Additional full liberalisation representing roughly 20% of the EU exports to Norway, or €250 million; New tariff quotas, in the meat sector (600 tonnes for swine meat, 800 t for poultry and 900 t for bovine meat)); Additional tariff quotas concerning cheese (2700 t), cereals (durum wheat 5000 t, maize 10 000 t, rye 1000 t), fruit & vegetables (strawberries 300 t, potatoes 3000 t, lettuce 400 t), meat products (sausages 200 t, ham 200 t, bacon crisp 100 t, meatballs 50 t) and juices (apple 1000 t, bilberry 200 t, blackcurrant 150 t). The trade value is estimated at around €50 million. Tariff reductions applying for some ornamental plants and flowers, namely begonias, roses, tulips and lilies. The trade concerned by these concessions is estimated at €3.5 million. Concessions granted by the EU to Norway: Full liberalisation on products on which Norway offers full liberalisation; Additional tariff quotas for cheese (3 200 t), fresh raspberries (400 t), potato chips (200 t) and pet food (13 000 t). For more details about the agreement - see IP/10/107 - when the deal was initialled.

2012 guide prices for fisheries products: increases for most products

The European Commission tabled today its annual proposal on next year’s guide prices for fresh and frozen fisheries products, and the EU producer price for tuna processing. In 2011, the market for fisheries products continued to recover from the dramatic drops in first-sale prices in 2009. However, the unstable economic climate may influence consumers' demand and cause fish prices to fluctuate in the short term, hence the proposed prices changes are moderate. As prices for most whitefish species have recovered from the 2009 drop, the Commission proposes increases between +1% and +3% for most whitefish species - except hake, plaice, dab and monkfish, for which decreases between -1.5 % and -2.5 % are proposed. Pelagic species are in demand in the EU and world-wide and an increase in exports is likely. Therefore the Commission proposes to increase the guide prices between +1.5% and +3% - except for sardines, anchovies and gutted albacore, for which decreases between –0.5 % and –2% are proposed. For frozen fish the Commission proposes increases between +1% and +3%. With regard to tuna, the Commission proposes to increase the Community producer price for yellowfin tuna processing by +2%. The proposed guide prices are based on Member States' average market prices over the previous three years. Other factors taken into account include trends in production and market demand, the interests of consumers and the need to avoid withdrawals of fisheries products from the market. For full details of the Commission's proposal, see table:


Commission adopts 2012 Work Programme for European Renewal

The European Commission has today adopted a Work Programme for the coming year, "Delivering European renewal". The Programme sets out how the Commission will build on the ambitious set of proposals to respond to the economic crisis already on the table with further measures next year. It translates the political priorities identified by President Barroso in the State of the Union address into concrete actions for the next year.

Commission wants better quality credit ratings

Credit rating agencies (CRAs) are major players in today's financial markets, with rating actions having a direct impact on the actions of investors, borrowers, issuers and governments. For example, a corporate downgrade can have consequences on the capital a bank must hold and a downgrade of sovereign debt makes a country's borrowing more expensive. Despite the adoption of European legislation on credit rating agencies in 2009 and 2010, recent developments in the context of the euro debt crisis have shown our existing regulatory framework is not good enough. So, today the Commission has put forward proposals to toughen that framework further and deal with outstanding weaknesses.

Commission strengthens the justice and fundamental rights dimension of future EU budgets

People in Europe need to feel at ease when they live, travel, or shop in a Member State other than their own. They should be able to rely on access to justice no matter where they are in the EU. Today, the European Commission is putting forward proposals for simplified funding programmes to help build an EU area of justice. The programmes will support the EU's actions to improve European cooperation on civil and criminal law, allow people to better exercise their rights as EU citizens and promote equality. They will also help to reinforce the EU's efforts to fight crime, tackle drugs demand and supply and safeguard the rights of people (such as accused persons or victims of crime) when in criminal proceedings. The two new programmes represent a major simplification compared to the existing programmes, with less paperwork and more efficiency in their management. They will run from 2014-2020 with a proposed budget of €803 million.

Antitrust: Commission makes Standard & Poor's commitments to abolish fees for use of US International Securities Identification Numbers binding

The European Commission has made legally binding commitments offered by Standard & Poor's (S&P) to abolish the licensing fees that banks pay for the use of US International Securities Identification Numbers (ISINs) within the European Economic Area (EEA) . Moreover, for direct users, information services providers (ISPs) and service bureaus (i.e. outsourced data management service providers), S&P committed to distribute the US ISIN record separately from other added value information, on a daily basis for USD15.000 per year, to be adjusted each year in line with inflation.

Catherine Ashton to visit South Caucasus

Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President, will visit South Caucasus this week to reaffirm the strong commitment of the European Union to the region. She will start her visit in Azerbaijan on Tuesday, then continue to Georgia on Wednesday and Armenia on Thursday.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "Questions and Answers on plant health pests and funding programmes to deal with them"

Memo "Review of the Working Time Directive" - rediffusion

Memo "State aid: Commission welcomes landmark Court ruling on proposed 2002 Gibraltar tax reform" - rediffusion

Memo "Frequently asked questions: legislative proposal on credit rating agencies (CRAs)" – rediffusion

Remarks by HRVP Ashton at the joint press point with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov – rediffusion

Memo "Media freedom high on European agenda" - rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso: "Presentation of European Commission Work Programme 2012" - rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso: "Debate on economic governance" - rediffusion

Speech by Commissioner Šemeta: "Annual Report of the European Court of Auditors" – rediffusion

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