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EXME 12 / 16.05
Midday Express of 2012-05-16
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
This year's G8 summit under the motto "Acting Together" is chaired by U.S. President Obama in Camp David and takes place back-to-back to the NATO summit in Chicago from 20-21 May, one month before the G20 summit in Mexico. The European Union is a full member of the G8 and is represented by Commission President Barroso and European Council President Van Rompuy.
Health claims on food labelling and in advertising, for example on the role of calcium and bone health or vitamin C and the immune system, have become vital marketing tools to attract consumers' attention. Therefore EU consumers expect accurate information on products they buy, in particular on the health claims the products may put forward.
Over 400 million Europeans currently enjoy passport-free travel across the Schengen area. With Europeans making more than 1.25 billion journeys every year, vigilance is required to defend citizens' right to free movement. Today, the Commission adopted its first 'health check', a biannual overview on the functioning of the Schengen area, which will contribute to enhancing political guidance and cooperation amongst Schengen participating countries. The report is accompanied by guidelines which seek to ensure a coherent interpretation and implementation of the selected issues, in a spirit of solidarity.
Eighteen films supported by the European Commission's MEDIA programme are in the Cannes Film Festival's 'Official Selection' this year, of which seven are in competition for the Palme d’Or, notably "Amour" by Michael Haneke, "The Angel's Share" by Ken Loach and "Jagten" (The Hunt) by Thomas Vinterberg (full list in annex). During the Festival, Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will award the first 'Prix MEDIA' to Iranian film-maker Asghar Farhadi and will also discuss the Commission's proposed new 'Creative Europe' programme, which includes MEDIA, with film directors and professionals. The new programme, which focuses on the cultural and creative sectors, has received strong support from EU Culture and Audiovisual Ministers.
The European Union celebrates European Maritime Day 2012 across events in Member States, on May 20, 2012. The main event will be the European Maritime Day Conference which this year will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 21-22 May, 2012, with almost 1,000 participants. Each year stakeholders from a large range of maritime sectors come to this event to discuss the opportunities and challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors across Europe: from tourism and fisheries to maritime transport and climate change. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, will join Swedish ministers and other European personalities at the Conference, on 21 May. On 22 May a number of maritime stakeholder events, workshops and exhibitions will take place.
The Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, Siim Kallas visited Ankara to enhance transport cooperation between the EU and Turkey. In line with the Commission "positive agenda", Vice-President Kallas discussed the establishment of a roadmap for EU transport relations with Turkey, including regular high-level meetings and the establishment of a structured dialogue with Turkish authorities.
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules, for a period of six months, around €680 million of state support granted by the Hellenic Deposit and Investment Guarantee Fund ("HDIGF") to facilitate the acquisition of the economic activities of the Greek T Bank by Hellenic Postbank in the context of T Bank's resolution. The Commission approved the measure in order to preserve financial stability, before it takes a final decision on the restructuring of Hellenic Postbank.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over the Angolan company Angola LNG (the joint venture) by BP of the UK, Chevron Global Energy of the US, Eni of Italy, Sociedade Nacional de Combustíveis de Angola (Sonangol) of Angola and Total of France. The joint venture will be active in the production of liquefied natural gas ("LNG") in Angola and the worldwide supply of LNG. The Commission found that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because of the joint venture's moderate anticipated market share, the presence of a number of credible competitors in the market concerned and competitors’ unchanged ability to access re-gasification terminals.
Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of control by Südzucker of Germany, Europe's largest sugar producer, over ED&F MAN of the UK, the second largest sugar trader worldwide and a company also active in sugar production. The approval is conditional upon the divestiture of ED&F MAN's interests in the Brindisi refinery, the biggest and most modern production facility in Italy.
The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in March 2012 gave a 8.6 bn euro surplus, compared with +1.0 bn in March 2011. The February 2012 balance was +2.3 bn, compared with -2.9 bn in February 2011. In March 2012 compared with February 2012, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.9% and imports by 1.1%. The first estimate for the March 2012 extra-EU27 trade balance was a 6.7 bn euro deficit, compared with -11.8 bn in March 2011. In February 2012 the balance was -12.0 bn, compared with -10.6 bn in February 2011. In March 2012 compared with February 2012, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.2% and imports by 0.9%.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.6% in April 2012, down from 2.7% in March. A year earlier the rate was 2.8%. Monthly inflation was 0.5% in April 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.7% in April 2012, down from 2.9% in March. A year earlier the rate was 3.3%. Monthly inflation was 0.5% in April 2012.
Animal Health: Commission earmarks €3.3 million for surveillance studies on honeybee colony losses
As part of a series of initiatives, the Commission has earmarked almost €3.3 million to support 17 Member States to carry out surveillance studies aiming to gather further important information on honeybee colony losses. The Commission has closely been following and coordinating the EU approach for the surveillance of honeybee colony losses in order to gather reliable and comparable data. The aim is to close the knowledge gap and gain a better understanding of the extent of the problem as well as the reasons for the honeybee colony losses. 17 projects submitted by Member States have been selected. The studies will be co-financed by the Commission at the rate of 70 % of eligible costs for the period 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2013 for the following Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. A Commission Communication on honeybee health gives an overview of the Commission’s actions already undertaken and ongoing as regards honeybee health in the EU which include the appointment of an EU reference laboratory for bee health, training for Member States officers on bee health under the Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF) programmes, several research projects and financial contribution to the national apiculture programmes. The communication highlights the fact that the increased mortality of bees has been observed worldwide. In 2009 the EFSA project ‘Bee mortality and bee surveillance in Europe’ concluded that the surveillance systems in the EU are, in general, weak and that there is a lack of data at Member States level and a lack of comparable data at EU level. In order to improve the availability of data on bee mortality the Commission deemed appropriate to assist and support certain surveillance studies in Member States on honeybee losses. For more information on bee health: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/bees/index_en.htm . EU reference laboratory (EURL) document ‘Basis for a pilot surveillance project on honey bee colony losses’: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/ bees/bee_health_en.htm
Food safety : Public consultation launched on animal cloning for food production
The Commission has launched a public consultation on animal cloning for food production. This consultation seeks to gather the views and opinions of all interested parties on the various aspects surrounding the issue of cloning for food production, such as the use of the cloning technique, the use of clones and their reproductive materials (semen and embryo) for breeding purposes and the use of live clones, their offspring and descendants for food purposes. The consultation is not, however, intended to cover the use of the cloning technique for other purposes e.g. research, production of pharmaceuticals or the conservation of endangered species or breeds. Taking the form of a detailed Interactive Policy Making (IPM) questionnaire, the results of the public consultation will contribute to the development of an impact assessment to examine possible measures on animal cloning for food production in the EU which is expected to be finalised by the end of 2012. This impact assessment will form the basis of a Commission report which will evaluate the merits for coming forward with a Commission legislative proposal on animal cloning for food production in 2013. The public consultation will remain open until 3 September 2012. For more information on the public consultation: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dgs_consultations/animal_cloning_consultation_en.htm or via Your voice in Europe: http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/consultations/index_en.htm
EU and South Africa sign joint declaration on education and training
Western Cape, 16 May 2012 - The European Union and the Republic of South Africa today signed a joint declaration aimed at strengthening their links in the field of education and training. It was signed by Jan Truszczyński, Director-General for Education and Training, acting on behalf of Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, and Hlengiwe Mkhize, South Africa's Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training. Both stressed the crucial contribution of education and training to the development of knowledge-based societies and economies and the key role they play in boosting growth and jobs. They also highlighted the importance of education and training for personal development of citizens and social cohesion. The EU and South Africa will set up a policy dialogue which will cover issues of shared interest. The joint declaration can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/education/news/index2012_fr.htm .
Towards better management of water, energy and land: Commissioner Piebalgs welcomes publication of European Report on Development
Andris Piebalgs has welcomed the European Report on Development 2011/2012, which will be presented today in Brussels. Funded by the European Commission and seven Member States, this annual independent report sheds light on the most important development concerns from a European perspective. This third edition examines the pressing issue of water, energy and land constraints and how they interrelate. It looks at how these resources can be managed effectively with the ultimate aim of promoting growth that is both socially inclusive and sustainable. Commissioner Piebalgs commented: "This report is particularly relevant and timely ahead of the UN Rio+20 conference and in the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. Water, energy and land are crucial resources for development and human well-being and scarcity cannot be overcome by piecemeal actions. Agriculture and energy are already among the Commission's development priorities as set out in our Agenda for Change, and will form a key part of our effort to boost the impact and effectiveness of EU development policy." The launch event will take place at 14.00, 16/05, in the Schuman Room (Berlaymont). For more information on the event, please visit the website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs
Brussels, 18 April 2012. After many months of crisis, the conditions now exist to start moving from crisis to growth in Greece. Agreement on the Second Economic Adjustment Programme and the success of the debt reduction agreement with the private sector mean that all efforts can now be concentrated on much needed growth and jobs. Today the Commission has set out the reasons why it believes Greece can transform itself – through the implementation of the agreed adjustment programme and with the ongoing support and solidarity of the EU, channelled by the Commission. In a new Communication the Commission highlights the steps that need to be taken during 2012, as part of the programme and explains the huge range of support measures that it can mobilise to help Greece begin to generate new economic dynamism, job creation and social cohesion.
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