|Reference: MEX/12/0719 Event Date: 19/07/2012|
EXME 12 / 19.07
Midday Express of 2012-07-19
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has formally closed the infringement procedure launched against Hungary on 17 January 2012 over the independence of its central bank, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB). Today's decision was made possible thanks to the adoption by the Hungarian Parliament of legal amendments to the central bank statute on 6 July, in line with the commitments Prime Minister Orbán made to President Barroso at their meeting on 24 April.
International tourism arrivals have returned rapidly to steady growth, showing tourism’s resilience to the effects of the global economic and financial crisis, according to a new OECD report. “OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2012” indicates that OECD countries were the destination of choice for 66% of global arrivals in 2010 with EU countries accounting for 50.2%.
Around 130 million Europeans have planned a holiday in another European Union country this year. Around three-quarters of them will use a car or motorbike at least once to reach their destination. Inevitably, some holidaymakers will get caught up in road traffic accidents, either on the way or during their break. But how can they claim compensation if they are a victim of an accident in a country other than their own? Where can they file their claim? And what is the deadline for a compensation claim? The European Commission has today launched a public consultation to help victims of cross-border traffic accidents, who may currently face difficulties because of varying time limits for claiming compensation for damage in case of an accident abroad in the EU. The consultation will run until 19 November.
The European Commission has written to Member States concerning the performance plans to improve air traffic management under the period 2012-2014 of the Single European Sky Performance Scheme. The scheme is expected to save billions of Euros to the benefit of airspace users and passengers in these three years. The Commission today announced that the plans are accepted as broadly in line with legally established European Union-wide targets, but has also adopted recommendations to Member States for further improvements.
Fraud affecting the EU budget fell by 35% in 2011, according to the Commission's annual report on the "Protection of the EU's Financial Interests". In cohesion policy, there were 41% fewer cases of suspected fraud compared to 2010, while in agriculture reported fraud cases fell by 66%. In addition to stronger measures and better controls implemented for EU funding, there are also a number of technical explanations for the drop in fraud rate in 2011. The closure of a programming period in cohesion policy and more stabilised reporting in the new control system for agriculture also contributed to lower reported fraud than in 2010. In its report, the Commission underlines the need to further reduce fraud affecting the EU budget, and makes a number of recommendations to Member States which could help achieve this. It also focuses on Member States with particularly low rates of reported fraud, and urges them to ensure that their reporting and control systems are of a high enough standard.
According to the latest available data, the EU27 external current account recorded a deficit of 4.1 billion euro in the first quarter of 20123, compared with a deficit of 31.3 bn in the first quarter of 2011. In the first quarter of 2012, compared with the first quarter of 2011, there was a fall in the deficit of the goods account (-31.6 bn euro compared with -47.3 bn). The surplus of the services account rose (+31.1 bn compared with +20.4 bn), as did the surplus of the income account (+14.4 bn compared with +13.4 bn). The deficit of the current transfers account remained nearly stable (-17.9 bn compared with -17.8 bn).The surplus recorded in the services account (+31.1 bn euro) is mainly the result of surpluses in "other business services", which includes miscellaneous business, professional and technical services (+12.9 bn), financial services (+7.2 bn), computer & information services (+5.8 bn), transportation (+4.8 bn), insurance services (+2.8 bn) and construction services (+2.4 bn), only partially offset by deficits in royalties & license fees (-1.4 bn) and travel (-0.3 bn). In the first quarter of 2012, the EU27 external current account recorded a surplus with the USA (+20.6 bn euro), Switzerland (+17.3 bn), Brazil (+7.6 bn), Hong Kong (+6.3 bn), Canada (+4.9 bn) and India (+1.3 bn), and a deficit with China (-25.8 bn), Russia (-20.8 bn) and Japan (-5.2 bn).
Commission clears acquisition of Logica by CGI Group
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of the British company Logica Plc. by CGI Group Inc. of Canada. Logica Plc. is active in the provision of information technology services mainly in Europe. CGI Group Inc. is globally active in the provision of information technology services. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Commission clears the acquisition by Banco Santander of Kredytbank and Zagiel
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of a controlling stake by Banco Santander of Spain, of the Polish bank Kredytbank, and of Zagiel, a Polish credit intermediary. Both of these entities are currently controlled by the Belgian banking group, KBC, and are divested as part of the obligations according to the Commission's State aid decisions on the restructuring aid that the bank received during the financial crisis. The clearance under the EU Merger Regulation is however without prejudice to the fulfilment of these obligations. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.
Romania needs to ensure respect for the rule of law and judicial independence to win back the trust of its partners in the EU, says the report adopted by the Commission today under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The report covers a period of five years since Romania's accession to the EU in 2007 and presents the Commission's assessment of progress achieved in Romania during this period, focusing on judicial reform and the fight against corruption
The Commission has adopted a report on progress made by under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The report covers a period of five years since Bulgaria's accession to the EU in 2007 and presents the Commission's assessment of progress achieved in Bulgaria during this period in the area of judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the fight against organised crime. Its main conclusion is that deeper implementation of reforms is needed in order for the process to become irreversible
The European Commission decided today to ask the Member States for their agreement on opening negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan. Negotiating directives will be submitted to the Council which will have to give the Commission a mandate to start negotiating. Japan is the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia, after China, and together the EU and Japan account for more than a third of world GDP. A trade deal with Japan could boost the EU's GDP by almost one per cent and EU exports to Japan could increase by one third.
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