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EXME 11 / 13.12
Midday Express of 2011-12-13
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Today, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its future plans for breaking down barriers to Europeans with disabilities. The consultation will help the Commission to prepare its proposals for a European Accessibility Act, planned for autumn 2012. The initiative aims to ensure that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transport and to information and communication services. It will also benefit people with limited mobility, such as the elderly. The consultation – itself fully accessible – is aimed at gathering views from businesses, people with disabilities and the general public and will remain open until 29 February 2012.
Between 2007 and 2013, some 14 billion EUR will be spent across the EU on infrastructure for the collection or treatment of waste water under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWT). The aim is to ensure that human and industrial waste doesn't adversely affect human health and the environment. The latest report on implementation of the Directive, for the period 2007/2008, shows that work is progressing well but that collection and treatment compliance rates could still improve. It reveals that most longstanding EU Member States (EU-15)1 maintained good standards of waste water treatment and improved on treatment of sensitive waters, while newer Members States (EU-12) improved on overall collection and treatment.
In the EU27, enterprises use the internet for a variety of purposes, among others, to present information on a website, offer online shopping facilities to customers and interact with public authorities. In the EU27, 95% of enterprises had access to the internet in January 2011. The share of enterprises having a fixed broadband connection to access the internet grew slightly from 84% in 2010 to 87% in 2011. On the other hand, the use of mobile broadband connections3 by enterprises in the EU27 increased significantly in the same period, from 27% to 47%. In 2010, the majority of enterprises in the EU27 used the internet to interact with public authorities (e-government), with 74% of enterprises obtaining information from public authorities' websites and 69% submitting completed forms electronically.
In 2010, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Luxembourg, expressed in purchasing power standards (PPS), was more than two and a half times the EU27 average, while the Netherlands recorded a level one third above the average. Ireland, Denmark, Austria and Sweden were between 20% and 30% above the EU27 average, while Belgium, Germany and Finland were between 15% and 20% above average. The United Kingdom and France registered GDP per capita around 10% above the EU27 average, while Italy, Spain and Cyprus were around the average. Greece, Slovenia, Malta, Portugal and the Czech Republic were between 10% and 20% lower than the EU27 average, while Slovakia was around 25% below. Hungary, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia were between 35% and 50% lower, while Romania and Bulgaria were around 55% below the EU27 average.
Quarterly Report on the Euro Area: Investing in knowledge is the best way to foster growth
The Quarterly Report on the Euro Area published today shows that one of the keys to safeguarding future jobs and prosperity in euro area economies lies in investment in skills and Research and Development (R&D). Technological progress and greater efficiency in production - jointly referred to as 'total factor productivity growth' - are also shown to be key determinants of long-term economic growth. The analysis finds that investing in appropriate skills of the workforce and in innovation and public R&D could have a substantial effect on productivity. According to the report, since the recession in the second quarter of 2009, households in the euro area have tended to save less, thereby supporting growth during the recovery phase. Looking forward, however, there is a risk that households respond to adverse asset price developments, worsened confidence and stricter bank lending practices by ramping up precautionary savings. Examining this year's high consumer price inflation, the report finds that energy and other commodity prices, as well as changes in statistical methods, accounted for much of this year's inflation volatility. The report also examines how fast-growing emerging market economies will be affected by the slowdown in advanced economies, concluding that this would be likely to harm emerging market growth. Link to the report: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/qr_euro_area/2011/qrea4_en.htm
Commission clears acquisition by Teekay and Marubeni of joint control over Maersk LNG
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Teekay LNG Partners (Marshall Islands) and Marubeni Corporation (Japan) of indirect joint control over Danish Maersk LNG, by way of a purchase of shares. Teekay LNG Partners provides LNG, liquefied petroleum gas and crude oil marine transportation services. Marubeni is involved in the handling of products and provision of services in a broad range of sectors related inter alia to energy, metals and mineral resources, mainly in Japan. Maersk LNG provides LNG marine transportation services. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
The EU's Council of Transport ministers met today in Brussels under the Polish Presidency. The European Commission was represented by Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport and mobility. The main agreements reached during the Council included the recast of the first railway package, progress towards an agreement on tachographs, the minimum level of training for seafarers and the Guidelines for the development of the Trans-European Transport Network.
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The United Kingdom did not provide data within the agreed deadlines; consequently, their results on implementation of the UWWTD are not reflected in this 6th Report