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EXME 11 / 08.12
Midday Express of 2011-12-08
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Staff teams from the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Riga during 28 October – 10 November for discussions on the fifth and final review of the international financial support programme with Latvia. Further consultations with the Latvian authorities were needed to conclude discussions due to the failure of Latvijas Krajbanka, which also had an impact on the government’s strategy for air Baltic. The teams have now reached agreement at staff level on the review.
To better protect Europeans from a wide range of health threats, and provide for a fully co-ordinated response in the event of a crisis, the European Commission adopted today a legislative proposal on the means to address serious cross border health threats. Building on lessons learned with recent crises such as the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, the volcanic ash cloud in 2010 and the outbreak of E. coli in 2011, the Commission is proposing to beef up the means to prepare for and to address such crises.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Nuon Belgium and Nuon Power Generation Walloon, together the Belgian assets of Nuon, by the Italian energy group ENI. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns in the European Economic Area (EEA) because of the parties' relatively moderate market shares and the presence of a number of credible competitors in the markets concerned.
Over the years, migration has had an impact on the composition of European societies. In 2010, foreign-born persons accounted for 9.4% of the EU27 population. Their socio-economic situation was in general less favourable than for native-born persons. In 2008 in the EU27, the unemployment rate of foreign-born persons aged 25-54 was higher than for native-born persons in this age group (10% compared with 6%). When employed, foreign-born persons often have more difficulties to find a job corresponding to their education level. This can be measured using an overqualification rate, which refers to the percentage of persons with a high level of education who have a job which does not correspond to this level. In the EU27 in 2008, foreign-born persons aged 25-54 registered a significantly higher overqualification rate than native-born persons (34% compared with 19%).
EU Globalisation Fund pays €9.6 million to help 1 783 redundant workers in Denmark, Germany and Portugal
The European Commission has made payments to Denmark, Germany and Portugal from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The total amount of €9.6 million will help 1 783 dismissed workers back into employment, following their redundancies in three sectors: shoes, wind turbines and the automotive industry. €3.9 million will help 325 former workers of the Vestas Group and two other manufacturers of wind turbines: I.P.L Transmissioner and Lind Jensens Maskinfabrik. The redundancies are a consequence of changes in world trade patterns, in particular a significant reduction of the EU market share and delocalisation of production to countries outside the EU, in particular to Asia. €4.3 million will help 778 dismissed workers from five German suppliers of motor vehicle components. The dismissals were a consequence of the financial and economic crisis which resulted in a substantial decrease in demand for new motor vehicles. Faced with this drop in demand, EU manufacturers of motor vehicles in 2009 reduced their production by 17 % compared to 2008 and by 23 % compared to 2007. This downward trend continued in 2010: the production of motor vehicles in the EU in the first three quarters of 2010 was 14 % below that of the same period in 2008. €1.4 million will help 680 former workers of the shoe manufacturer Rohde - Sociedade Industrial de Calçado Luso-Alemã, Lda. in Portugal. These redundancies are a consequence of the decrease in sales and the reduced capacity to invest, resulting from the financial and economic crisis. These circumstances, including the declining orders from the parent enterprise based in Germany, affected the situation of the Rohde factory based in Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, and as a result, insolvency proceedings were started in September 2009, leading to the eventual closure of the factory and the dismissal of the workers. These payments follow approval by the Budgetary Authority - the European Parliament and the Council - on 25 October 2011. The relevant proposals were made by the Commission on 11 and 20 July and on 17 August 2011. For more information see also: IP/11/853 as regards the Danish manufacturers of wind turbines; IP/11/914 regarding the suppliers of motor vehicle components and IP/11/964 regarding the shoe manufacturer Rohde.
Commission approves prolongation of Irish guarantee scheme for credit institutions
The European Commission has approved until 30 June 2012 the prolongation of a scheme allowing to provide state guarantees for credit institutions in Ireland, initially approved in November 2009 ( IP/09/1787) and extended on 31 May 2010 ( MEX/10/0531), 28 June 2010 ( IP/10/854), 21 September 2010 ( IP/10/1154), 10 November 2010 ( MEX/10/1110) and 1 June 2011 ( IP/11/673). The Commission found the extension of the measures to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495) as revised in its Communication of 30 November 2011 on the application, from 1st January 2012, of state aid rules to support measures in favour of banks in the context of the crisis ( IP/11/1488). The extended measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission, therefore, concluded that the guarantees are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), that allows to grant aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state.
Commission launches consultation on acquisitions and holdings in the financial sector
The European Commission launched a consultation today seeking views on the application of Directive 2007/44 EC as regards acquisitions and increase of holdings in the financial sector. Following events at the time, the Commission tabled a proposal in 2006 to minimise the scope for national supervisors to invoke rules in order to hinder cross-border mergers and acquisitions for protectionist reasons. The Directive was adopted in 2007 and laid down uniform rules and evaluation criteria for national supervisors to prudentially assess mergers and acquisitions in the financial sector. It contains a clause, calling for the Commission to review the application of the Directive and submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council, together with any appropriate proposals to review the Directive. The responses to the consultation launched today will provide important information on how the Directive has been applied at national level and will feed into a report that the Commission is to prepare. Replies can be submitted up until 10th of February. The consultation is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2011/acquisitions_en.htm
Pet food : Commission publishes labelling code that will benefit millions of pets in the EU
A Code of good labelling practice for pet food is published today by the European Commission. It will allow millions of pet owners across the EU to keep their animals healthy, thanks to improved labelling allowing informed choices on the pet food they buy. Pets occupy an increasingly important role in EU society. More than 70 million households in the Union keep pet animals and thus regularly purchase pet food. The estimated 64 million cats, 60 million dogs, eight million aquaria and other pet animals (estimated at 65 million) consume about 8.3 million tons of pet food every year (for a total value of 13.5 billion €). The code is also expected to help the pet food industry to better cope with the legal requirements. The "layman's guide" contained in the code will enable consumers to understand pet food labels better and to chose the right food for their animals. The European law on Pet Food was modernised in 2009 and provides for detailed requirements, which have to be met by pet food manufacturers. Product information rules go well beyond the actual label on the product. They also cover product flyers and other means of information including the internet. Claims that might mislead the customers are tackled through a requirement to scientifically substantiate such claims. Additionally, each label must indicate a contact, e.g. a telephone number, in case the customer wants to have more information on the product. Another important advantage concerns the fact that the code assures a harmonised approach: instead of having 27 different national interpretations of the labelling rules, the code gives clear guidance on how the provisions should be applied throughout the EU. The code represents a success story for co-regulation. It has been prompted by EU legislation and drafted by the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) and finalised in consultation with all interested parties and the experts from the Member States. FEDIAF will gradually provide other language versions on its own website, but the English version shall be the reference text. The code is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/animalnutrition/labelling/index_en.htm
Further flexibility in the implementation of rules on electronic identification of sheep and goats
The obligatory recording of the individual identification code of the sheep born before 1 January 2010 when these animals are moved will be postponed until the end of 2014. This follows the endorsement of the Member States experts of the Commission draft presented at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 6 December. The Commission will adopt this change formally in the coming weeks, which will significantly reduce the administrative burden placed on keepers of such animals and will provide further flexibility enlarging the transitional period for implementation of the rules on electronic identification of small ruminants. These new rules will apply from 1 January 2012. Electronic identification is only mandatory for animals born after 31 December 2009 and therefore many animals born before 1 January 2010 are only identified with conventional non-electronic tags. Manual recording of the non-electronically identified sheep is burdensome as compared with the easier automatic recording of the electronically identified sheep. Member States and farmers associations have expressed their concern that the recording of animals not identified electronically, but with conventional ear-tags, has to be done out manually and this represents a major administrative burden for keepers and also a potential source of error. EU rules on the identification of sheep and goats were reinforced by Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 after the experience gained with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in 2001. The system, which entered into force in July 2005, is based on the principle of individual traceability using on electronic identification for the sheep and goats born after 1 January 2010 together with up-to-date registers kept on each holding, movement documents and a central register or a computer database.
European Commission welcomes adoption of the 2011 UN resolution for Sustainable Fisheries
The European Commission welcomes the adoption of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on sustainable fisheries. The outcome for the EU is very satisfactory as all EU proposals have been included in the Resolution. In addition, the EU worked closely with other Parties successfully contributing to the incorporation of their proposals to the final resolution. This year focused on the review on the measures for the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems from the impacts of bottom fishing and the long term sustainability of the deep sea fish stocks. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said: "We welcome this UN Resolution on sustainable fisheries. I am particularly pleased about the increased protection of the Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, which was strongly pushed by the EU. Now it is important that all parties live up to the commitments made". Full text available at : http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/news_and_events/press_releases/2011/20111208/index_en.htm
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