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EXME 12 / 21.03

Midday Express of 2012-03-21

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Inauguration of the new EU Agency for large-scale IT systems

A new agency for managing large-scale EU information systems will be inaugurated tomorrow in Tallinn, Estonia, with the attendance of Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Its main task will be to ensure that the Visa Information (VIS) and EURODAC systems operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Agency is due to become fully operational as of December 2012.

State aid: Commission approves pension relief and restructuring aid in favour of the Royal Mail Group

The European Commission has approved UK plans to relieve the Royal Mail Group (RMG) from excessive pension costs relating to its past monopoly position and to provide RMG with restructuring aid consisting of a debt reduction of ₤1089 million (around €1311 million). RMG's revised restructuring plan will ensure a sustainable future for the group in its twofold function of providing universal postal services and of granting access to its delivery network to other providers in the UK. Moreover, the plan negotiated with the Commission includes appropriate measures to minimise distortions of competition induced by the aid.

State aid: Vice President Almunia and UEFA President Platini confirm Financial Fair-Play rules in professional football are in line with EU state aid policy

Vice President Joaquín Almunia and UEFA President Michel Platini today issued a joint statement on the interaction between the application to professional football of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules by UEFA and the control of State aid in professional football by the Commission. Both disciplines seek to achieve a situation in which professional football clubs live within their own means. The joint statement provides a basis for further cooperation between the Commission and UEFA with a view to promoting fair competition between football clubs.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigations in air transport sector in Belgium, France and Germany

The European Commission will investigate whether financial arrangements between public authorities and the airports of Charleroi (Belgium), Angoulême (France) and Dortmund (Germany), as well as rebates and marketing agreements concluded between these airports and some of the airlines using them, are in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of proceedings gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment; it does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation

Aides d'Etat: la Commission approuve le plan français de numérisation du patrimoine cinématographique

La Commission européenne a conclu qu'un projet français d'aide à la numérisation d'œuvres cinématographiques de patrimoine était compatible avec les règles de l'UE relatives aux aides d'Etat, notamment parce qu'il contribue à la promotion de la culture tout en limitant les distorsions de concurrence. Le programme vise à rendre accessible le patrimoine cinématographique européen au plus grand nombre, grâce aux nouvelles technologies.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into aid granted to Nürburgring racetrack in Germany

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether a €524 million set of aid measures supporting the racetrack and leisure park at Nürburgring in Germany is in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission has doubts whether these measures promote services of general economic interest or alleviate a funding default caused by the financial and economic crisis. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives Germany and interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under examination. It does not prejudge the outcome.

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into financing of arenas in Copenhagen and Uppsala

The European Commission has opened two distinct investigations to examine whether public funding for the construction of multifunction arenas in Copenhagen (Denmark) and in Uppsala (Sweden) is in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the public funding may procure an undue economic advantage to the new arenas which their competitors do not have, thereby distorting competition in the internal market. The opening of in-depth investigations gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under examination. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.

Unleashing the potential of Europe’s security industry

On the occasion of today's High Level Security Roundtable in Brussels, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, announced that the Commission will soon present a Communication on an EU security industry policy. Currently this industry is facing a highly fragmented internal market. National regulatory frameworks differ widely and the market for security products is highly diversified, ranging from cameras to complex scanner systems. Therefore, it is essential to make progress on harmonisation, standardisation, and to bring security research closer to the market. In short: there is a need to promote this industry, which is why the European Commission will present its Communication in the coming months. VP Tajani expressed his concern on the current fragmented market, as it would weaken the competitiveness of Europe’s security industry and would endanger its ability to provide technologies necessary to ensure the security of European citizens. More information on the European Commission security research policy . The High-level Security Roundtable was the second meeting to discuss ways to support the EU Internal Security Strategy. The Commission was represented by Home Affairs Commisisoner Cecilia Malmström, and Vice-Presidents Siim Kallas, Neelie Kroes and Antonio Tajani. More information about the EU Internal Security Strategy

State aid: the European Commission opens an investigation into the reduction of, or exemption from, a Danish tax on the protection of drinking water

The European Commission has decided to open a formal procedure under EU rules to investigate state aid for the reduction of, or exemption from, the Danish tax on the protection of drinking water in the farming sector. The Commission doubts whether this measure is compatible with EU law. The opening of a formal investigation authorises the Commission to examine this measure in a more detailed manner and provides interested parties with the opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudice the outcome of the procedure.

Animal Health: New rules on bluetongue allows preventive use of vaccination in the EU

New rules on vaccination against Bluetongue are published today, and enter into force tomorrow, 22 March 2012. These rules are expected to better prevent outbreaks and limit the economic impact of Bluetongue on farms in the EU. The Commission welcomes the change in the rules, which would now allow for vaccination also in Bluetongue-free areas, thus allowing for preventive vaccination in areas that are at risk. The amendment of Council Directive 2000/75/EC follows the Commission’s strategy "prevention is better than the cure" and allows more flexibility for Member States to develop national vaccination strategies for the prevention and control of Bluetongue. Under the new rules, Member States will be able to use inactivated vaccines which are considered safer for use, since, contrary to "live vaccines", they cannot replicate. These inactivated vaccines which have been developed over the last few years, have been the preferred tool for Bluetongue control and prevention of clinical disease in the EU. The number of outbreaks in the EU has been decreasing steadily over the past years. This success is attributed primarily to the vaccination campaigns, using inactivated vaccines, which the EU has co-financed over the years (€150 million in 2008, and allocation of €120 million in 2009, €100 million in 2010 and €16 million in 2011). In 2008, a total of 45.000 outbreaks were reported across the EU. That number dropped to 1.118 in 2009, 176 in 2010 and only 39 in 2011. For more information:

Mme Androulla Vassiliou assistera au lancement du Global Enterprise Challenge à Paris

Le premier Global Enterprise Challenge, initiative qui vise à mettre en avant les capacités de travail en équipe et l’esprit d’entreprise chez les collégiens et les lycéens, se tiendra à Paris le 22 mars, en présence de la commissaire européenne à l’éducation, à la culture, au multilinguisme et à la jeunesse, Mme Androulla Vassiliou. Plus de soixante jeunes âgés de 15 à 19 ans et venus de onze États membres (Allemagne, Espagne, Finlande, France, Irlande, Italie, Pays-Bas, Portugal, Roumanie, Slovaquie et Suède) ont été invités dans la capitale française pour y prendre part à un atelier doublé d’un concours sur le thème de l’innovation. Répartis en plusieurs groupes multinationaux, ils acquerront des connaissances sur la résolution de problèmes, l’élaboration d’idées, la présentation d’exposés et les capacités nécessaires au travail en équipe. Des spécialistes du monde du travail encadreront ces groupes, dont les compétences entrepreneuriales, la compréhension interculturelle et l’aptitude au travail d’équipe sous pression seront ensuite mises à l’épreuve. La journée s’achèvera par une cérémonie de remise des prix. Mme Vassiliou a déclaré : « Il s’agit là d’un fantastique projet qui, je l’espère, inspirera d’autres initiatives du même genre. L’Europe a besoin de découvrir et d’encourager les entrepreneurs de demain. Leurs idées et leur faculté d’adaptation sont vitales pour la création d’emplois et la concrétisation des objectifs de la stratégie Europe 2020 : une croissance intelligente, durable et inclusive. ». L’événement, qui aura lieu à la Maison des associations de solidarité, est organisé par la Table ronde des industriels européens, en coopération avec les réseaux Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe et European Schoolnet. La Commission européenne soutient financièrement l’éducation et la formation dans le domaine de l’entrepreneuriat grâce à divers programmes, dont Erasmus et Leonardo da Vinci. Ce type de formation est également l’un des éléments clés du nouveau programme de master mis sur pied en collaboration avec l’Institut européen d’innovation et de technologie. Pour en savoir plus : Global Enterprise Project , Erasmus for All , DG Education and Culture , Twitter @VassiliouEU

Autre matériel diffusé :

Joint statement by President Barroso and the President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy following the tragedy in Toulouse - rediffusion

Speech by President Barroso: "20th Anniversary of DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection" - rediffusion

Déclaration du Président Barroso suite à sa rencontre avec la Présidente de la Confédération suisse, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf - rediffusion

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr. Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan Press point Brussels, 20 March 2012 - rediffusion

Memo "New EU Agency for managing large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice"

Speech by V-P Reding "Die neue EU-Datenschutzverordnung – Eine Chance für effektiven Datenschutz in Europa"

Speech by V-P Reding "Sieben Grundbausteine für Europas Datenschutzreform" – rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President Kroes at the High Level Public-Private Security Roundtable: " A European Strategy for Internet Security" – UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 16:30

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