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EXME 11 / 22.12

Midday Express of 2011-12-22

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Euro notes and coins – 10 years on

1 January 2002 marked the introduction of euro notes and coins in the European Union, ushering in an unprecedented alignment of monetary policies and closer cooperation between countries of the euro area. Whilst the euro and Economic and Monetary Union provided a sound basis for economic progress, the banking crisis of 2008 and its consequences have tested the system to the full. The success of the euro has proven to be dependent on sound and sustainable public finances and robust macroeconomic policies. The basis for recovery already exists with the recently strengthened EU rules on economic governance and surveillance. It is being further reinforced through a 'Fiscal Compact' agreed by EU leaders in the pursuit of budgetary discipline and reinforced economic policy coordination and governance throughout the eurozone.

Autumn 2011 Standard Eurobarometer: people see the European Union as part of the solution to the crisis

Europeans continue to see the European Union as the most effective actor – ahead of national governments – in tackling the effects of the economic crisis (see Annex). The EU remains in first place (23%, +1) and is followed by national governments (20%, unchanged). The G20 (16%, +2) ranks third ahead of the International Monetary Fund (14%, -1).

European Commission gives guidance to Europe's insurance industry to ensure non-discrimination between women and men in insurance premiums

The European Commission has today adopted guidelines to help the insurance industry implement unisex pricing, after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that different premiums for men and women constitute sex discrimination. In its ruling on the Test-Achats case on 1 March 2011, the Court of Justice gave insurers until 21 December 2012 to treat individual male and female customers equally in terms of insurance premiums and benefits ( MEMO/11/123). Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, met with leading EU insurers in September 2011 to discuss how the industry should adapt to the Court's ruling ( MEMO/11/624).

Health: driving forward the uptake of e-Health with a new network for European Co-operation

Today the European Commission adopted a Decision establishing an eHealth Network, as foreseen by the Directive ( 2011/24/EU) on Patients' Rights in Cross-border Healthcare. For the first time, EU legislation includes provisions on eHealth with clear objectives to find modern, innovative solutions for providing better and safer healthcare for all Europeans.

GMOs : Commission authorises three GM maizes and one GM cotton for food and feed uses

The European Commission adopted today three Decisions authorising GM maizes MIR604xGA21, Bt11xMIR604, Bt11xMIR604xGA21 and one Decision authorising GM cotton 281-24-236/3006-210-23. These four Decisions cover the authorisation for food and feed uses and import and processing, but not for cultivation. The products in question received (between May 2010 and June 2010) a positive safety assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and underwent the full authorisation procedure set out in the EU legislation. As Member States did not succeed to return qualified majority decisions either in favour or against these 4 authorisations - in a Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in February 2011 and then in the Council meeting of 15 December 2011 -, the files were sent back to the Commission for final decision. The authorisations are valid for 10 years, and any products produced from these GM maize and GM cotton will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules. For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm

Enregistrement d'une dénomination d'un produit agricole

La Commission européenne a ajouté la dénomination " Figue de Solliès ", une figue violette française, à la liste des appellations d'origine protégées (AOP). La dénomination s'ajoute 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: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quality/schemes/index_fr.htm

Commission clears acquisition of joint control of Timir by Evraz and Alrosa

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Evraz Group S.A. ("Evraz") and Open Joint Stock Company Alrosa ("Alrosa") of joint control of Open Joint Stock Company Mining and Metallurgical Company Timir ("Timir"). Evraz is a global steel and mining company incorporated in Luxembourg. Alrosa is the second largest diamond mining company in the world with diamond operations in the Russian Federation and Angola. Timir, which is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alrosa, will undertake the development of a greenfield iron ore mining project in Siberia. Both Timir and Alrosa are registered in the Russian Federation. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission approves aid for German bank Nord/LB

The European Commission has temporarily authorised, under EU state aid rules, recapitalisation measures for a total amount of €1,667 million in favour of German Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (Nord/LB). The measures are needed to put the bank in a position to comply with the capital requirements set out by the European Banking Authority (EBA). The capital measures have been temporarily approved until a decision on the restructuring is taken. Germany has committed to submit a restructuring plan for NordLB within six months from the date of the present decision, should a prolongation of the measure be required. NORD/LB is a German Landesbank which serves as the central institution of the savings banks in the German Länder of Niedersachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Commission approves capital injection for National Bank of Greece

The European Commission has temporarily approved, under EU state aid rules, a €1 billion capital injection into National Bank of Greece (NBG) provided under the Greek support scheme for credit institutions. The latter was approved by the Commission on 19 November 2008 (see IP/08/1742) and prolonged several times (see MEX/11/0627). The Greek authorities had committed to notify individually any recapitalisation which would not be the first for a given bank. This second recapitalisation for NBG brings the total recapitalisation aid received to an amount equivalent to 2.1% of risk weighted assets. The Commission found the capital injection to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the measure is well targeted, foresees and adequate remuneration and is limited to the minimum necessary. The measure therefore constitutes an appropriate means for remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and is as such compatible with the internal market under Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The approval is temporary and will only be prolonged if the Greek authorities submit an updated restructuring plan.

Rediffusion

December 2011: Flash Consumer Confidence Indicator

In December 2011, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator declined in both the EU (down to -21.9 from -20.7 in November 2011) and the euro area (down to -21.2 from -20.4 in November 2011).

Nicosia and Paphos to compete for title of European Capital of Culture 2017

The selection panel appointed to assess the cities applying to be European Capital of Culture in 2017 has recommended that Nicosia and Paphos are preselected as the Cypriot contenders for the 2017 title. The panel's decision was announced in Cyprus today by Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. The preselected cities will now flesh out and complete their applications by next summer for the second and final selection round.

Mergers: Commission approves creation of a joint venture between HBO and Ziggo in the Netherlands

The European Commission cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of HBO Nederland Coöperatief U.A., a joint venture to be controlled by Home Box Office Inc of the US and Ziggo B.V. of the Netherlands. The proposed joint venture will develop and operate new pay-TV channels in the Netherlands only. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction will not raise competition concerns on any of the markets concerned; on the contrary, the proposed transaction will increase competition in the acquisition of pay-TV content and in the wholesale of pay-TV channels in the Netherlands.

Aides d'Etat: La Commission autorise temporairement des garanties sur le refinancement de Dexia et DCL et ouvre une enquête approfondie

La Commission européenne a temporairement autorisé, en vertu des règles de l'UE relatives aux aides d'État, une garantie temporaire sur le refinancement de Dexia SA et de sa filiale Dexia Crédit Local SA (DCL), pour un montant en principal de maximum 45 milliards d'euros. La garantie temporaire est conjointe et non solidaire, à hauteur de 60,5% pour la Belgique, 36,5% pour la France et 3% pour le Luxembourg. Elle couvre le refinancement de la banque avec une maturité de maximum trois ans et est émis jusqu'au 31 mai 2012. L'objectif de la garantie est de permettre à la banque de préparer un plan de restructuration ou - à défaut de viabilité de Dexia SA - de liquidation, que les trois États membres s'engagent à soumettre à la Commission dans un délai de trois mois à compter d'aujourd'hui.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "Euro notes and coins – 10 years on"

Memo "Signature of the fifth Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding (SMoU) related to the EU financial assistance to Latvia" - rediffusion

Memo "European Commission report concludes balance-of-payments assistance programme remains on track in Romania"

Memo "European Commission report concludes progress on fiscal, economic and structural reforms in Portugal" - rediffusion

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, following the preliminary ruling of the European Court of Justice on the transfer of asylum seekers under the EU Dublin Regulation - rediffusion

Statement by EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard on the case C-366/10 (The Air Transport Association of America and Others) - rediffusion


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