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EXME 12 / 06.06
Midday Express of 2012-06-06
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The financial crisis highlighted that public authorities are ill-equipped to deal with ailing banks operating in today's global markets. In order to maintain essential financial services for citizens and businesses, governments have had to inject public money into banks and issue guarantees on an unprecedented scale: between October 2008 and October 2011, the European Commission approved €4.5 trillion (equivalent to 37% of EU GDP) of state aid measures to financial institutions. This averted massive banking failure and economic disruption, but has burdened taxpayers with deteriorating public finances and failed to settle the question of how to deal with large cross-border banks in trouble.
The European Union is committed to achieving a 20% share of renewable energy by 2020. This goal can be reached only in a cost-efficient manner if all policies currently in place are implemented across all Member States and if support schemes converge. In the Communication adopted today, the Commission is therefore calling for a more coordinated European approach in the establishment and reform of support schemes and an increased use of renewable energy trading among Member States. Moreover, the fact that investors need regulatory certainty makes crucial to start discussing the future and building a solid framework beyond 2020.
A new rail link connecting the Brussels Airport with the high-speed rail network to Paris/Amsterdam/London/Köln will be inaugurated tomorrow. The new link will allow high-speed trains to stop at the airport on their way to Brussels or Antwerp, giving passengers more flexibility in their travel choices and improving connections between rail and air transport. The project – called Diabolo – has so far received almost €9.7 million in trans-European transport network (TEN-T) co-financing.
In a report released today, the EU identifies a staggering increase in protectionism around the world with 123 new trade restrictions introduced over the last eight months – a rise of just over 25%. This brings the total number of restrictive measures in place today to 534. In its ninth report on potentially trade-restrictive measures, the European Commission points to a failure by the G20 countries to reducing trade barriers. G20 members have to do more to prevent the introduction of new barriers to trade, and to rectify protective measures introduced since the break-out of the crisis.
GDP remained stable in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 during the first quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter, according to second estimates released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2011, growth rates were -0.3% in both zones. Compared with the first quarter of 2011, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 0.1% in the euro area and increased by 0.1% in the EU27, after +0.7% and +0.8% respectively in the previous quarter.
European Business Forum on Vocational Training - how to meet the employability challenge
At the first "European Business Forum on Vocational Training" on 7-8 June in Brussels (Conference Centre, Charlemagne Building), companies, policy-makers and experts will discuss companies' approaches to skills development, which is crucial for competitiveness. Among the issues addressed will be skills gaps and the relevance of training to labour market needs; new trends in competence development and work based learning; and obstacles and incentives to take on apprentices. The results of a survey on apprenticeship supply in the European Union will be presented. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "This is the start of a new process involving businesses more directly in the policy debate about vocational education and training in Europe. Policy-makers need to work with employers to identify how we can best ensure that young people and adult workers have the skills needed to increase their job and career prospects." The Forum is an initiative of the European Commission, in line with its EU 2020 strategy for jobs and growth and its Youth Opportunities Initiative . It will be opened by Jan Truszczyński, Director General for Education and Culture, and Christine Antorini, Danish Minister for Education. Companies that will be represented include: Air Liquide, Danfoss, Deutsche Bank, Goodyear, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, Philips, Siemens, Unilever. To find out more: DG Education and Culture , Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU
2011 Report reveals European Consumer Centres helped over 70,000 consumers get a better grip on their rights
Cases handled by the European Consumer Centres' Network (ECC-Net) in 2011 remained consistently high: more than 70,000 consumers received free help and advice. The ECC-Net has helped consumers in about 416.000 cases since its creation in 2005. Year on year, the pattern of complaints remained basically the same. The transport sector triggered the majority of complaints (32% of which 20% related to air transport services). Online purchasing was the selling method which caused most problems for consumers (56.6% of complaints). Consumers in Austria, Ireland and Slovakia however, complained mostly about the recreation and culture sector, in Norway and the United Kingdom they complained most about restaurants, hotels and accommodation services and in Luxembourg about miscellaneous goods and services. In 2011, more than half of the complaints were resolved amicably or passed on to other organisations: 41% of the complaints were successfully closed after the ECCs reached an amicable settlement with the trader and 13% were passed on to other organisations (e.g. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) entities (to help solve problems out of court), national enforcement bodies or courts). Compared to previous years, ECCs increasingly promoted ADR entities: 62.5% of the complaints transferred to other organisations or agencies were passed on to ADR entities (compared to 50% in 2009 and 58.5% in 2010). The ECC-Net covers the 27 EU countries, plus Norway and Iceland. It provides information to consumers on their rights when shopping cross-border in another EU country and helps them find a solution if something goes wrong. The annual report offers a wealth of information on its operations and success stories per EU country. For more information including the full ECC-Net Annual Report 2011: http://ec.europa.eu/ecc-net
Commission to get new Chief Accounting Officer
The College has decided to appoint Mr Manfred Kraff as Deputy Director-General of the Budget Directorate-General. The position automatically makes him Chief Accounting Officer of the Commission as well. Mr Kraff, who is German, is currently a Director at the Court of Auditors in Luxemburg. He has also been a lecturer at the University of Trier, and is the author of several publications in the field of public finance and audit. The decision will take effect on 16 September 2012. The College also decided to promote Ms Nathalie Sauze-Vandevyver to the position of Director responsible for agricultural legislation at the Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate-General. Ms Sauze-Vandevyver, who is French, already occupies the post in an acting capacity, and is also a Head of Unit responsible for agricultural legislation and simplification. The decision takes effect on 16 June 2012.
European Commissioner of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visits Greenland
Greenland and the EU share mutual concerns, both of a global nature, such as climate change, ageing society and the financial crisis, and specifically related to the Arctic and the opportunities and challenges that the region poses. Against this background, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki will visit Greenland between 7 & 9 June, 2012. On June 7, the Commissioner will visit the Royal Greenland’s processing plant in Ilulissat and she will have a boat tour with an inspection ship on Disko Bay, where an ice fjord is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On June 8, Ms Damanaki will visit Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. In Nuuk, she will have a meeting with Greenland Fisheries and Licence Control organization. Commissioner Damanaki will also discuss with the Premier Minister Mr Kuupik Kleist and the Minister for Fisheries and Hunting Ane Hansen EU-Greenland cooperation and agreements regarding the protection of Greenland's environment so that it goes hand in hand with the diversification of its economy. The two parties' close co-operation in fisheries has recently been underlined through the successful completion of negotiations for a new Fisheries Protocol that will enter into force next year. This agreement is to the mutual advantage of both the EU and Greenland. Stronger cooperation with Greenland would also allow for the EU to deepen the partnership regarding the Arctic region, to support research, boost economic development and combat global warming in the most effective way: Ms Damanaki will visit the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, which issues the biological advice on fish and sea mammals and she will have a meeting with Inuit Circumpolar Conference on how climate change influences the challenges and possibilities for Inuit Communities in the Arctic.
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