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EXME 12 / 17.04

Midday Express of 2012-04-17

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Commission strengthens independence and reliability of EU statistics

Stronger measures to ensure the quality and credibility of EU statistics have been set out in a proposal adopted by the Commission today. High-quality, reliable statistics are fundamental for evidence-based decision making. Demands for such data have further increased in light of the enhanced economic-policy coordination that has been agreed in the EU over the past year. Moreover, recent economic events have shown the importance of credible statistics to ensure the trust of the public and the financial markets in such decisions. In line with what was foreseen in the "Six Pack" (see MEMO/11/627), the Commission has therefore proposed a revision of the EU Regulation on Statistics to further strengthen in law the independence, reliability and quality management of statistics coming from Member States and compiled at EU level.

'We Mean Business': Commission launches campaign to boost work placements

The European Commission today launches the “We Mean Business” campaign, which aims to encourage companies to create more trainee placements to boost young people's skills and employability. At the same time, traineeships can help young people make a smooth transition from education and training to a first good job. Placements can also bring benefits to companies, enabling them to identify potentially excellent future employees who could, with their fresh ideas, be key to future productivity and competitiveness. In 2012-2013, the Commission will provide funding support for a total of 280 000 placements through its Leonardo da Vinci and Erasmus schemes for vocational and higher education students.

Monthly Labour Market Fact Sheet – April 2012

The EU unemployment rate hit a new high at 10.2 % in February 2012, up by 0.1 pp on the previous month. This is 0.7 pp higher than in February last year, corresponding to 1.9 million more people unemployed, bringing the total number to 24.6 million. The increase has been very constant over the last six months, especially for men, generating on average 200 000 more jobless per month. Divergence among EU labour markets increased further in February, as the gap between the lowest and highest unemployment rates, respectively in Austria (4.2 %) and Spain (23.6 %), is the largest ever recorded over the decade. Over the twelve last months under review, 18 Member States recorded increases in their unemployment rate and eight recorded decreases. In the former group, the most significant rises were seen in Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Portugal. In the latter, major falls took place in the Baltic States and Germany, although the fall has tailed off in recent months. Youth unemployment remains critical in the EU, as its rate climbed again by 0.1 pp in February 2012 on the previous month, to 22.4 %. This is 1.4 pps up on February last year. Huge contrasts persist between Member States: the youth unemployment rate is higher than 20 % in about two-thirds of countries and, for the first time, exceeded the 50 % mark in Spain and Greece, while it is lower than 10 % only in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Hiring activity remains positive with on-line labour demand continuing to grow in March 2012, but at a significantly slower pace, while restructuring activity declined further, with a still slightly negative impact on jobs.

Euro area annual inflation stable at 2.7% - EU stable at 2.9%

Euro area annual inflation was 2.7% in March 2012, unchanged compared with February. A year earlier the rate was 2.7%. Monthly inflation was 1.3% in March 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.9% in March 2012, unchanged compared with February. A year earlier the rate was 3.1%. Monthly inflation was 1.1% in March 2012.

Arts and culture can build bridges with Roma, says Commissioner Vassiliou

The role of arts and culture in encouraging Roma inclusion will be the focus of a conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels on 18 April. A concert organised by the Yehudi Menuhin International Foundation, featuring acclaimed Roma singer Ida Kelarova and Roma children, will take place in the evening. "Arts and cultural activities can help build bridges between communities and combat social exclusion. This can only lead to deeper mutual understanding, which is paramount if we are to move from segregation to integration," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Around six million Roma live in the European Union and up to 12 million across the European continent as a whole. They represent around 10% of the population in some countries in Central and Eastern Europe. To find out more: The conference , DG Education and Culture, Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU

Winners of European Union Prize for literature at the London Book Fair

Three of the winners of last year's European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) will be at the London Book Fair on 18 April. Andrej Nikolaidis (Montenegro) and Inga Zolude (Latvia) will visit the Pen Literary Café and UK laureate Adam Foulds will later join them to take part in a debate organised with 'Literature across Frontiers', an initiative promoting literary exchange, translation and policy debate around the topic of literature. The European Union Prize for Literature recognises the best new or emerging authors in the EU and highlights the creativity and diversity of Europe’s contemporary fiction. The Prize is organised by the European Commission, the European Booksellers' Federation, European Writers' Council and the Federation of European Publishers. The competition is open to the 37 countries involved in the EU Culture Programme (27 Member States, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey). More info on the 2011 winners: IP/11/1176 . To find out more: About the Prize , About Culture , Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU

Commission clears acquisition of TransUnion by Goldman Sachs and Advent International

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Goldman Sachs and Advent International of joint control of TransUnion Corp. All three companies are based in the USA. TransUnion provides credit information to consumers, mainly in the USA and other markets outside of the EEA. Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of banking, securities and investment services. Advent International controls the Advent International private equity group and, through this group, manages or advises a number of investment funds. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Le Commissaire Piebalgs en Côte d'Ivoire pour relancer le dialogue politique et renforcer l'aide européenne

M. Andris Piebalgs, Commissaire européen au développement, arrive ce soir à Abidjan pour une visite officielle en Côte d'Ivoire, un an après sa première visite au lendemain de la cessation des conflits. Le Commissaire Piebalgs rencontrera le Président Alassane Ouattara et le Premier ministre M. Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou, afin de relancer le dialogue politique et définir conjointement les secteurs prioritaires de coopération. Outre les défis ivoiriens, le Commissaire évoquera également avec le Président Ouattara, qui préside actuellement la Cedeao (la Communauté économique des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest), les dossiers régionaux, notamment la situation du Mali et dans la région du Sahel.


Digital Agenda: Commission seriously concerned about future high mobile rates in Estonia

The European Commission put a hold on a proposal by the Estonian Competition Authority (ECA) to impose some of the highest mobile termination rates (MTRs) in the European Union from mid-2012 until mid-2015. MTRs are the rate mobile networks charge other networks for delivering voice calls. The Commission is concerned that ECA's proposed pricing methodology does not fully follow the method set out in EU telecoms rules and will lead to durably excessive MTRs and ongoing consumer harm.

Autre matériel diffusé :

Statement by President Barroso at the press point with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon following the opening ceremony of the EU Sustainable Energy For all Summit - rediffusion

Memo: "European statistics: FAQ"

Memo "La coopération entre l'Union européenne et la Côte d'Ivoire: appuyer les services de l'Etat à la population et relancer l'économie"

Speech by Vice-President Reding: "The binding EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: Key trends two years later" - rediffusion

Speech by Vice President Siim Kallas "Using better rail traffic management to build a single European transport area" –rediffusion

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