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EXME 11 / 14.12
Midday Express of 2011-12-14
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Today, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme that aims to increase citizens' awareness and understanding of the European Union. The programme, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €229 million, will support activities to increase awareness and citizens' understanding of the EU, its values and history, such as the remembrance of Europe’s past and partnerships between cities (town-twinning). It will also help people become more engaged in civic and democratic activities through debates and discussions on EU-related issues.
Today, the European Commission has proposed to improve assistance for EU citizens caught in crisis situations – such as those that occurred in Japan, Libya or Egypt this year – and day-to-day emergencies when travelling abroad. The aim is to ease cooperation between consular authorities and strengthen European citizens' right to consular protection. EU citizens abroad have the right to ask for assistance from a consulate or an embassy of another EU Member State when their Member State is not represented in the country. EU Member States must also help citizens evacuate as if they were their own nationals. Today’s proposals will strengthen these rights by clarifying when a citizen is considered not represented and specifying the type of assistance Member States typically provide in cases of need, such as arrest, serious accident or lost documents. The Commission has also developed an interactive website on consular protection , which lists the contact details of all EU Member States' embassies and consulates outside the EU – searchable either by EU nationality or by country.
On the eve of the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan, which will take place in Washington on 14-15 December, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, announced that the European Commission will focus its aid on the agriculture and food security sector. €80 million will be allocated to improving rural infrastructure; boosting productivity by providing easier access to services and land, and strengthening water management for sustainable use. New jobs and growth in agriculture will also contribute to the much-needed diversification of South Sudan's oil-dependent economy. It is expected that some Member States will announce support in complementary sectors.
The European Development Days (EDDs), one of the key events in the international development community, will take place tomorrow in Warsaw. Jointly organised by the European Commission and the Polish Presidency, this year's EDDs will focus on the recent Arab Spring events, and will include a keynote speech by the Interim Prime Minister of Tunisia, H.E. Beji Caid el Sebsi.
The European Commission has made legally binding commitments offered by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in the mainframe maintenance market. IBM commits to make spare parts and technical information swiftly available, under commercially reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, to independent mainframe maintainers.
In October 2011 compared with September 2011, seasonally adjusted industrial production fell by 0.1% in the euro area (EA17) and by 0.2% in the EU27. In September production decreased by 2.0% and 1.5% respectively. In October 2011 compared with October 2010, industrial production increased by 1.3% in both zones.
For many people today it seems difficult to live without the internet, however a decreasing, but still non-negligible, part of the EU population has never used it. In the EU27, almost three quarters of households had access to the internet in the first quarter of 2011, compared with almost half in the first quarter of 2006. The share of households with broadband internet connections more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, to reach 68% in 2011 compared with 30% in 2006. During the same period, the share of individuals aged 16-74 in the EU27 who had never used the internet decreased from 42% to 24%.
Commissioner Georgieva participated today at the launch of the 2012 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) at the UN in Geneva. Humanitarian organisations are jointly appealing for a record-high amount of US$ 7.7 billion to assist 51 million people during 2012. The crises in Somalia, Sudan and Kenya are topping the list of appeals in terms of requests for funds. Welcoming the CAP as an essential coordination tool, Commissioner Georgieva called for humanitarian organisations to work jointly to ensure the most efficient humanitarian response. "The financial crisis is putting unprecedented pressure on humanitarian aid budgets. More than ever humanitarian organisations need to ensure that the aid is being brought to those who need it most in an effective and well-coordinated manner". The CAP brings aid organisations together to jointly plan, coordinate, implement and monitor their response to natural disasters and complex emergencies. In 2010, EU Member States and the European Commission collectively provided EUR 1.17 billion in response to the CAP.
Commission adopts report on the implementation and effect of the Resale Right Directive
The resale right is intended to ensure that authors of graphic and plastic works of art share in the economic success of their original works of art. Its application was harmonized by Directive 2001/84/EC which came into force on 1 January 2006. The European Commission has today adopted a report on the implementation and effect of that Directive. The report finds that while there are pressures on the European art markets, no conclusive patterns can currently be established to directly attribute the loss of the EU's share in the global market for modern and contemporary art to the harmonisation of provisions relating to the application of the resale right. The report also finds that while living artists and, more significantly, heirs of artists benefit from the application of the resale right, the management procedures for the resale right could be improved. The Commission proposes to establish a stakeholder dialogue, tasked with making recommendations for the improvement of the system of resale right collection and distribution in the EU; and to undertake a further reporting exercise with a view to delivering its results in 2014. The report is available at:
Fisheries: Commission proposes measures against countries which allow unsustainable fishing
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Regulation which would authorise the Commission to impose a range of measures against third countries that allow unsustainable fishing. Once the proposal is approved by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU will have a new powerful tool to discourage unsustainable fishing practices swiftly and to promote international cooperation on shared fish resources. The measures foreseen will range from restricting imports of fish products from the concerned stock as well as associated fish species to prohibiting the conclusion of chartering agreements with economic operators from countries allowing non-sustainable fishing. The framework will guarantee strict respect of international law. The Commission will assess carefully the likely environmental, trade, economic and social effects of measures and the administrative costs of their implementation. The countries concerned will be granted an opportunity to be heard before the measures are adopted, and to take corrective actions to avoid them. Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "This is a groundbreaking measure. If backed by Member States and the European Parliament, we will have for the first time an effective legal instrument to help us secure the conservation of fish stocks that the EU shares with other countries. This is of prime importance to our fishing communities and the long-term conservation of stocks - in the interest of consumers and the society at large."
Neelie Kroes welcomes industry's 10 recommendations to boost Cloud Computing in Europe
Reacting to industry recommendations for a coherent legal framework for Cloud Computing services, Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "I went to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011 with a vision for a 'cloud-active' Europe. Having received the views of industry and our citizens I will go back to Davos in 2012 in order to announce the first concrete actions and start building a European Cloud Computing Partnership." Kroes will take into account critical points for industry such as the need for legal certainty to encourage more use of Cloud Services by small businesses, and ensuring data protection laws are compatible with the development of Cloud computing.
The Commission has today formally adopted a package of proposed staff reforms that would deliver €1 billion in savings by 2020, and more than €1 billion every year in the longer term. This would allow the EU to freeze operational expenditure for administration until 2020. The proposal increases the retirement age, combines a 5% cut in staff with an increase in weekly working hours, lowers salaries in certain areas, increases a special solidarity levy and simplifies the method used for annual adjustments to salaries and pensions.
Suspects in the European Union will soon receive a ‘letter of rights’ listing their basic rights during criminal proceedings following a vote today in the European Parliament. The European Commission proposed the measure in July 2010 ( IP/10/989) as part of its efforts to ensure people have a right to a fair trial throughout the EU. It is the second step in a series of measures to set common EU standards in criminal cases. The measure is part of the Commission's efforts to bolster fair trial rights EU-wide and improve mutual trust amongst judicial authorities. Following the Parliament's endorsement, the measure will now pass to ministers for final adoption by the Council in the coming weeks before becoming law.
The European Commission invites comments on commitments offered by Thomson Reuters to address concerns that its licensing practices in relation to the Reuters Instrument Codes (RICs) may be in breach of EU antitrust rules. RICs are codes that identify securities, used by financial institutions to retrieve data from Thomson Reuters' real-time datafeeds. The Commission has concerns that Thomson Reuters is abusing its dominant market position in the market for consolidated real-time datafeeds by prohibiting customers from using RICs for retrieving data from alternative providers and mapping them for such a purpose to alternative symbols. Thomson Reuters has offered to allow customers to license RICs for the purpose of switching and to use RICs for retrieving data from other providers against a license fee. If the market test confirms that the proposed commitments remedy the competition concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision under Article 9 of the Antitrust Regulation 1/2003, making the commitment legally binding on Thomson Reuters.
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