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EXME 12 / 06.03
Midday Express of 2012-03-06
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
An innovative EU and UNICEF project has helped thousands of families, communities and countries to change attitudes and end harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Africa, says a report on the EU funded project ahead of International Women's Day. As a result of education and awareness raising, girls in thousands of communities in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Senegal and Sudan are no longer subjected to this practice.
GDP decreased by 0.3% in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 during the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the third quarter of 2011, growth rates were +0.1% in the euro area and +0.3% in the EU27. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2010, seasonally adjusted GDP rose by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.9% in the EU27, after +1.3% and +1.4% respectively in the previous quarter.
State aid: Commission approves extension of Lithuanian aid scheme for banks
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, an extension of a Lithuanian aid scheme for banks until 30 June 2012. The scheme covers guarantees, asset relief and recapitalisation measures in favour of banks operating in Lithuania. Lithuania amended the pricing conditions of the scheme to bring them in line with the requirements of the Commission's 2011 Communication on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/11/1488). Other conditions of the original scheme remain unchanged. The Commission found the extension of the measures, initially approved on 5 August 2010 (see IP/10/1032) and prolonged on 21 January 2011 (see MEX/11/0121) and 27 June 2011 (see MEX/11/0627), to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/09/322 , IP/10/1636 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the extended measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Lithuanian economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Merger: Commission clears acquisition of De Beers by Anglo American
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of De Beers (Luxembourg) by Anglo American (United Kingdom). De Beers is currently jointly controlled by Anglo American and CHL, a company representing the interests of the Oppenheimer family. Anglo American is active in the exploration, mining, processing and supply of various natural resources such as platinum group metals, rough diamonds, copper, iron ore, metallurgical coal, nickel and thermal coal. De Beers is active in the exploration, mining, processing, valuation and supply of rough diamonds worldwide. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Task Force on Greece (TFGR) - High level coordination meeting with Member States
The third coordination meeting organised by TFGR and involving the Greek authorities, technical assistance providers and European Commission services will take place on Tuesday 6 March in Brussels. The matching of technical assistance supply and demand is organised through these quarterly coordination meetings. Six months after the launch of the Task Force, this will also be an occasion to look at some of the Technical Assistance (TA) projects under way in order to exchange experience among TA providers.
The opening of the meeting and the state of play of the TA will be presented by the Head of the TFGR, Mr Reichenbach and Vice-Minister Pantelis Tzortzakis from the Ministry for Administrative Reform and e-Government. Matters on the agenda include presenting additional TA priorities and TA requests of the GR government (by Georgos Glynos, Advisor of Prime Minister on European Affairs), discussions on the cooperation and priorities between Greece, TFGR and stakeholders and case studies on ongoing technical assistance on different areas such as administrative reform and e-Governance, public health, land register and money laundering.
Commissioner Hedegaard to attend Sustainia launch in Geneva
On 7 March 2012, Connie Hedegaard visits Geneva for the "Grand Public Conference on the Green Economy and Climate Change" and the launch of Sustainia, an international communication and innovation platform for citizens and stakeholders on how to build the sustainable society of tomorrow. The Sustainia Award, described as a 'Nobel Prize' for sustainable development, will be awarded for the first time during the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June in Brazil. At the University of Geneva, Connie Hedegaard will participate in a high-level discussion with Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, who is Chair of the Sustainia Committee.
A European Commission report published today shows that limited progress towards increasing the number of women on company boards has been achieved one year after EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called for credible self-regulatory measures (see MEMO/11/124). Just one in seven board members at Europe's top firms is a woman (13.7%). This is a slight improvement from 11.8% in 2010. However, it would still take more than 40 years to reach a significant gender balance (at least 40% of both sexes) at this rate.
The European Commission has suspended plans of the Spanish telecoms regulator (CMT) to postpone by a year the introduction of cheaper mobile termination rates (MTRs), the rates mobile networks charge other networks for delivering voice calls. These costs are ultimately included in call prices paid by consumers and businesses. CMT planned to delay cheaper rates until January 2014, one year later than the Commission's recommended deadline. CMT's proposed delay could result in one more year of unnecessarily high mobile consumer prices in Spain at a moment when Spanish consumers are already hard-hit by the economic crisis.
The Italian city of Bologna has won the 2011 European Mobility Week Award. The city was judged by an independent panel of mobility experts to have done the best job in promoting clean alternatives to using cars and involving citizens in activities to support sustainable urban mobility during European Mobility Week 2011. The runners-up were Larnaka in Cyprus and the Croatian capital Zagreb. The award was handed to the winning city by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Vice-President Siim Kallas European Commissioner for Transport at a ceremony in the Brussels Musical Instrument Museum on 5 March 2012.
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