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EXME 11 / 28.11
Midday Express of 2011-11-28
News from the Communication Directorate General's midday briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Direction Générale Communication
EU-funded researchers from Germany, Italy, Israel and the UK have achieved a breakthrough development in robotic neurosurgery. The ROBOCAST project, has developed a new type of robot that gives two important advantages to surgeons: 13 degrees (types) of movement, compared to the four available to human hands during minimally invasive surgery, and "haptic feedback" the physical cues which allow surgeons to assess tissue and perceive the amount of force applied during surgery. The robot has performed accurate keyhole neurosurgery on dummies, and when ready for humans, could ease the suffering of millions of Europeans diagnosed with tumours, and conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and Tourette syndrome.
Today the European Commission adopted a programme that will further improve Public Finance Management (PFM) systems in Armenia. It is the second part of the Annual Action Programme (AAP) for Armenia for 2011, worth €24 million. The programme will contribute to the improvement of public sector transparency and performance, including the broadening of e-governance systems. Moreover it will assist achieve regulatory convergence with the EU and international laws and standards in the areas of trade, for instance improving customs legislation.
Today, the Commission adopted the second part of the 2011 regional action programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood. It will address challenges in a wide range of sectors relevant for the whole region, such as integrated border management, territorial cooperation, youth, climate change and transport.
Today, in an informal meeting of the Working Group, the European Commission is discussing with the Member States the draft list of permitted health claims to be authorised for use on food. The process for the adoption of this list is entering its final stage after long discussions with the Member States and interested stakeholders. As already announced ( IP/11/933), the list now discussed with the Member States contains Article 13 health claims for all substances other than so-called "botanicals". On the latter, the European Commission is still reflecting how they should be best assessed for use on food.
Healthy diet and physical activity: Commissioner Dalli to urge action to prevent non communicable diseases
John Dalli, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, will address Member States' representatives (the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity) and stakeholders (the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health) tomorrow at a joint meeting taking place in Brussels. He will commend the achievements of governments and Platform members in addressing unhealthy diets and physical activity in the EU since the adoption in 2007 of an EU Strategy to address obesity and overweight related issues. Commissioner Dalli will urge European governments and stakeholders to step up efforts to make healthy options available and promote physical activity for all ages. He will also highlight areas where public and private synergies can produce tangible results such as food reformulation and responsible advertising. The members of the two groups gathering for this meeting include government representatives from 29 European countries (EU-27, Norway and Switzerland) and European-level umbrella organisations representing the food industry, health organisations, the medical profession and public health community and other civil society non-government organizations. An unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are two of the four risk factors for developing non-communicable diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The European Commission has endorsed the recent 2011 United Nations political declaration for the prevention and control of non communicable diseases, which calls for global action to reduce the burden of these largely preventable diseases. EU action, including initiatives by these two groups, will help to further implement this agenda. The Commissioner's speech will be available on his website from tomorrow: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/dalli/index_en.htm . For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/policy/index_en.htm
European Sky project to new heights
Decision makers and business leaders from across Europe meet in Warsaw today to discuss implementation of the Single European Sky (SES). Currently, fragmentation of European airspace costs the European economy €4 billion each year as it makes the average flight 49 kilometres longer than necessary, forcing planes to burn more fuel, and causing delays. The SES initiative will put an end to this, and produce real benefits for everyone: airspace capacity will be tripled; safety will be improved tenfold; the impact on the environment will be reduced by 10%; costs of air traffic management will be reduced by 50%. As companies benefit from lower costs, passengers can look forward to lower prices. However, a lot of work still needs to be done if these benefits are to be achieved, as the Commission warned earlier this month in its report " Single European Sky implementation – Time to deliver ". Aviation cooperation with neighbouring non-EU countries is also essential and additional measures to enhance practical cooperation need to be developed. This will be a particular focus of the conference, with a full session devoted to developing the pan-European dimension of the European sky. The high-level conference on the implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) and its extension beyond the European Union is organised by the Polish Presidency, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee. More on the Warsaw conference: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air/events/2011-11-28-ses_en.htm
Award ceremony for the European Union Prize for Literature
The 12 winners of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature will receive their awards this evening during a ceremony at the Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels in the presence of Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. The event will be also attended by HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, chair of the European High-Level Group on Literacy, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Polish Minister for Culture and Heritage, and Doris Pack, chair of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee. The 12 winners were announced on the 11 October at the Frankfurt Book Fair (see IP/11/1176). The European Union Prize for Literature honours the best new or emerging authors in 36 countries involved in the EU Culture Programme (27 Member States, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). Each year, national juries in 12 of the countries nominate the winning authors, so that all countries participating in the programme are represented over a three-year period.
Commissioner Piebalgs attends the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will participate in the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, from 29 November to 1 December 2011. This forum follows on previous aid effectiveness events in Paris and Accra and will gather representatives from both developing and donor countries, government representatives, parliamentarians, civil society organisations and private sector representatives. They will review global progress in improving the impact and value for money of development aid and make new commitments to further ensure that aid helps reduce poverty and supports progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Commission clears acquisition by Carlyle and H&F of Pharmaceutical Product Development
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman ('H&F') of joint control of US Pharmaceutical Product Development ('PPDI'). PPDI provides laboratory and clinical development services to the pharmaceutical industry. Carlyle is a global alternative asset manager, which sponsors funds that invest globally across investment disciplines in a range of industries. H&F is a private equity investment firm which invests in industries including healthcare, business & marketing services, software, financial services, internet & digital media, insurance, media and energy & industrials. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The EU-US Summit will take place in Washington DC on Monday 28 November. The EU will be represented by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. High Representative Catherine Ashton and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will also attend the summit. The United States will be represented by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other representatives of the US administration.
The selection board responsible for evaluating the applications for the European Capital of Culture 2017, meeting today in Copenhagen, recommended that Aarhus and Sønderborg should be preselected for the title. Once this recommendation has been confirmed by Denmark, the preselected cities will have to flesh out and complete their applications by the summer of 2012.
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