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EXME 12 / 13.02
Midday Express of 2012-02-13
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Barroso will travel to Beijing for the 14th EU-China Summit with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on 14 February 2012. The Summit provides an important opportunity to engage with a key EU partner, and -, against the backdrop of the current troubled economic times - send a signal of mutual confidence in each other’s economies. Both parties share a determination to contribute to global recovery and stability.
The European Commission has today adopted a strategy to shift the European economy towards greater and more sustainable use of renewable resources. With the world population approaching 9 billion by 2050 and natural resources finite, Europe needs renewable biological resources for secure and healthy food and feed, as well as for materials, energy, and other products. The Commission's strategy and action plan, “Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe”, outlines a coherent, cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach to the issue. The goal is a more innovative and low-emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security, and the sustainable use of renewable biological resources for industrial purposes, while ensuring biodiversity and environmental protection. The plan therefore focuses on three key aspects: developing new technologies and processes for the bioeconomy; developing markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy sectors; and pushing policymakers and stakeholders to work more closely together.
A big step towards a safer use of hazardous chemicals was taken today with the publication of the first EU Classification and Labelling Inventory. Released by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), it lists the classification of all the chemical substances used in the EU which allows identifying those that are potentially hazardous and may damage health and the environment. The aim is to provide industry, and in particular small companies, with easy access to information on the hazardousness of a given substance, facilitating the task to correctly classify and label substances and mixtures, as well as substitution of hazardous substances with less damaging alternatives where feasible.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has become the 32nd member of the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism which facilitates European cooperation in disaster response. This brings the country into a community of European nations which work together for better prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. The European Commission supports the Mechanism through its Monitoring and Information Centre.
Soil degradation is a worrying phenomenon in the EU. Between 1990 and 2006, at least 275 hectares of soil per day were permanently lost through soil sealing – the covering of fertile land by impermeable material – amounting to 1,000 km² per year, or an area the size of Cyprus every ten years. Soil erosion by water is estimated to affect 1.3 million km² in Europe, an area equivalent to 2.5 times the size of France. Soil degradation affects our capacity to produce food, prevent droughts and flooding, stop biodiversity loss, and tackle climate change. These are some of the main findings of two new reports on the policy and scientific aspects of European soil presented by the European Commission.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the Belgian chemical company Taminco Group Holding S.à.r.l. by the US-based private equity fund Apollo. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not raise competition concerns because the parties are not active on the same markets and will continue to face competition from several other players on related markets.
EU27 trade in goods with China has grown significantly over the last decade. EU27 exports to China rose continuously from 26 billion euro in 2000 to 113 bn in 2010. Despite the general decline in EU27 exports in 2009, EU27 exports to China continued to increase. EU27 imports from China rose from 75 bn in 2000 to 248 bn in 2008, then declined to 214 bn in 2009, in line with the general fall in EU27 imports, before reaching a new peak of 283 bn in 2010. As a result, the EU27 trade deficit with China increased from 49 bn in 2000 to 169 bn in 2010. The data for the first ten months of 2011 show a continuing growth in EU27 trade with China. EU27 exports to China grew by 21%, from 92 bn in the first ten months of 2010 to 112 bn in the first ten months of 2011, while imports rose by 5%, from 232 bn to 244 bn. As a result, the trade deficit decreased from 140 bn to 132 bn. In the ten months of 2011, China was the EU27's second most important trading partner after the USA, accounting for 9% of EU27 exports and 17% of EU27 imports.
Public procurement in EU: Commission invites experts to take part in policy-shaping and implementation.
Commission will be active in the field of public procurement this year. In this context, the European Commission has issued a call for applications to participate in a new stakeholder expert group on public procurement. The group will bring together a variety of experts with first hand experience in the field of public procurement including, for example, legal and economic analysis of public procurement, e-procurement,environmental and social aspects of procurement, concessions, relations between contracting authorities or Public Private Partnerships. The group will provide the Commission with high-quality expertise and practical insight with a view to assisting it in shaping and implementing the public procurement policy of the European Union. The Commission invites qualified experts to apply for membership of the group (deadline for application is 05.03.2012).
Merger: Commission clears the creation of a joint venture between General Electric and Microsoft
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the creation of a joint venture between General Electric and Microsoft. General Electric is a global, diversified manufacturing, technology and services company, which through its subsidiary GE Healthcare is also active in healthcare equipment and services. Microsoft designs, develops, and supplies computer software and related services on a worldwide basis. The joint venture will develop an extensible health intelligence platform that collects, processes, analyses and transfers relevant medical data whilst at the same time offering advanced front-end analytical tools to assist doctors and physicians. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
New Protocol to EU- Guinea Bissau Fisheries Partnership Agreement
The European Union and Guinea Bissau agreed today on a new Protocol to implement the EU/Guinea Bissau Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol provides the EU with fishing opportunities for fish (including tuna), cephalopods and shrimps. In return, the EU will pay Guinea Bissau an annual compensation of € 9.2 million, out of which € 3 million is earmarked to support the fisheries policy of Guinea Bissau. European vessel owners will continue to pay a license fee to fish in Guinea Bissau waters. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner in charge of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: "Both parties are satisfied with the results of the negotiations. This new Protocol underscores the continuous strong co-operation on fisheries between the EU and Guinea Bissau". The Protocol reinforces the role of the joint scientific committee to improve scientific advice and further develop the management measures. Control too will be improved thanks to the use of vessel monitoring system (VMS) and electronic logbooks. It also includes a clause on the respect of human rights. The EU and Guinea Bissau have decided to reinforce cooperation between economic operators in the fisheries sector. The Protocol will be valid for 3 years and will replace the current one, which expires on 15 June 2012. The Member States with an interest in it are mainly France, Portugal and Spain.
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