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EXME 12 / 10.07
Midday Express of 2012-07-10
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
One of the greatest challenges facing the EU is how best to design and adapt cities into smart intelligent and sustainable environments. Almost three quarters of Europeans live in cities, consuming 70% of the EU's energy. Congestion costs Europe about 1% of its GDP every year; most of it is located in urban areas. Smart urban technologies can make a major contribution to tackling many urban challenges. EMBARGO UNTIL 12H30 CET
Despite commitments by Member States to promote inclusive education, children with special educational needs and disabled adults are still getting a raw deal, according to a report published today by the European Commission. Many are placed in segregated institutions and those in mainstream educational settings often receive inadequate support, it says. The report calls on Member States to work harder to develop inclusive education systems and to remove the barriers faced by vulnerable groups when it comes to participation and success in education, training and employment.
New support which will help to provide additional life-saving, affordable, contraceptive information, services, and supplies to women and girls in the world’s poorest countries was today announced by EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs.
The third EU-China High-level Strategic Dialogue was held in Beijing on 9-10 July 2012, co-chaired by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, and Dai Bingguo, State Councillor of the People's Republic of China.
The European Commission is inviting comments from interested parties on commitments offered by the Czech electricity incumbent CEZ to address concerns that it may have infringed EU antitrust rules by hindering the entry of competitors onto the Czech electricity markets, in particular through excessive capacity reservations. To alleviate these concerns, CEZ offered to divest coal-fired generation capacity in the Czech Republic. If the market test confirms that the proposed commitments remedy the competition concerns, the Commission may make them legally binding on CEZ.
Commission and Latvia sign Partnership Agreement on euro changeover communication activities:
The Latvian Minister for Finance, Andris Vilks, and the European Commission Vice-President responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro, Olli Rehn, today signed a Partnership Agreement on euro changeover communication activities on the margins of the EU's Council of Economics and Finance Ministers. The Commission and the Latvian Government have agreed to coordinate their information and communication efforts in Latvia with a view to increasing public knowledge of Economic and Monetary Union and the euro, and to contributing to a smooth euro changeover in Latvia without prejudice to relevant future Council decisions. Moreover, the agreement allows the Commission to support a series of communication activities laid down in the "Communication Strategy for the Euro Changeover in Latvia". The Commission has in the past entered into similar Partnership Agreements with other Member States planning to adopt the euro. Useful background information can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/euro/adoption/index_en.htm
Commission clears acquisition of joint-control of Danish fuel retailer
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the proposed acquisition of joint control of Danish company Kuwait Petroleum by Dutch company Kuwait Petroleum Europe B.V. ("KP Europe") and Swedish company OK ekonomisk förening ("OKEF"). Kuwait Petroleum is active in retail and non-retail sale of fuels, but also the sale of fuel in bulk, lubricants and liquid petroleum gas in Denmark. KP Europe is a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and is active in refining, transporting and marketing Kuwaiti crude oil, petroleum and petrochemical products in Europe. OKEF is a cooperative owned by its members and provides them and other customers with fuels, lubricants and other car related goods and services in Sweden. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of support scheme for credit institutions in Greece
The European Commission has authorised until 31 December 2012, the extension of a support scheme for credit institutions in Greece which includes a recapitalisation, guarantee and bond loan scheme. The scheme was initially approved on 19 November 2008 (see IP/08/1742), and prolonged several times, the last one being on 6 February 2012 (see MEX/12/0206). The Commission found the prolongation of the measure to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the measure is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that the scheme represents an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Greek economy and as such is compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Many EU citizens may have noticed the improvement in the accuracy of GPS signals over the past three years, thanks to the enhancement provided by EGNOS the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which is owned and managed by the European Union. As part of the actions undertaken by the European Commission to upgrade and maintain the EGNOS system, a new EGNOS transponder was launched earlier today on board an SES satellite from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The new transponder will replace the one currently aboard an Inmarsat satellite. It will continue to provide higher accuracy positioning signals to both citizens and professionals using an EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver. Europeans already benefit from these improved positioning signals since October 2009. In addition, since March 2011, air carriers with a certified receiver aboard their aircraft can use EGNOS for en-route navigation and precision approaches, enabling safer landings and more energy-efficient flights (see below and IP/11/247). EGNOS is Europe's first contribution to satellite navigation and is the precursor to Galileo.
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