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EXME 12 / 14.09
Midday Express of 2012-09-14
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Where you live in Europe can strongly influence your education and prospects in life, according to a new European Commission report. The report, entitled 'Mind the Gap - education inequality across EU regions', highlights significant disparities in education opportunities and results across - and within - Member States. There appears to be a North-South divide in educational attainment, with the highest rates of low-qualified people, with lower secondary education or less, chiefly found in southern European regions and especially in Portugal and Spain. In contrast, the regions with the lowest rates of low-qualified people are mostly found in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. Geographic inequalities in education persist despite commitments by Member States to promote equity in education and training. The report – the first of its kind – calls on EU countries to work harder to reduce these inequalities.
How many plants can be found in the Alps that are not native to that region? Which animals were deliberately or accidently introduced to the Danube? How big a threat will they become to local wildlife? EASIN, the European Alien Species Information Network, launched today by the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), takes a first step towards answering these and other questions related to 16 000 alien species currently reported all over Europe. This information network – the first of its kind in Europe – is an important step to deal with the threat of alien species that become invasive. Invasive species present a serious threat to biodiversity and natural resources, with an economic impact estimated at around € 12 billion per year.
Quantifying noise exposure will be significantly easier thanks to a new set of common noise assessment methods published today. Comparable data on noise exposure in Europe is a prerequisite to set up EU policies to reduce noise pollution, a growing health and economic concern all over Europe. The new methods – known as Common Noise Assessment Methods in Europe (CNOSSOS-EU) – were drawn up by the European Commission’s in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre. They assess noise from road, rail and air traffic and from industry, and will provide consistent and comparable data on the noise levels to which people are exposed. Member States will have to start using the new methods for the next round of EU-wide strategic noise mapping in 2017.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of joint control over Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW) by EADS Deutschland and aircraft maintenance provider Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STA). EFW is currently solely owned by EADS. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because it would not significantly alter the market structure.
The European Commission has today announced new funding of €100 million for Palestine in the areas of water and sanitation and supporting refugees, as well as a package of support to Area C (the part of the West Bank under direct Israeli occupation), amongst other things. The EU is the largest donor to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
Europe Loves Reading: HRH Princess Mathilde and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou visit Brussels school
As part of the 'Europe Loves Reading' campaign, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, will join H.R.H. Princess Mathilde of Belgium at a forum on literacy with 16-18-year-old pupils at the Collège Saint-Hubert in Watermael-Boitsfort (Brussels) on Monday, 17 September (media rendezvous: 10:00). The discussion will focus on the challenge of improving literacy levels in the European Union, where one in five teenagers and almost 75 million adults have poor reading skills, putting them at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The forum will, among other things, address the impact of new technologies and social media on literacy. On 6 September, the Commission published a report (see IP/12/940 and MEMO/12/646) by a high level group of experts with recommendations on how to improve literacy in Europe. EU Education Ministers will discuss its findings at their meeting on 4-5 October. Princess Mathilde was a professional speech therapist for many years and is a strong supporter of initiatives to tackle literacy problems. To find out more: European Commission website on literacy , DG Education and Culture , Commissioner Vassiliou's website , Twitter @VassiliouEU
The number of persons employed remained stable in the euro area (EA17) and increased by 0.1% in the EU27 in the second quarter of 2012 compared with the previous quarter, according to national accounts estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2012, employment fell by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.1% in the EU27. These figures are seasonally adjusted.
Euro area annual inflation was 2.6% in August 2012, up from 2.4% in July. A year earlier the rate was 2.5%. Monthly inflation was 0.4% in August 2012. EU annual inflation was 2.7% in August 2012, up from 2.5% in July. A year earlier the rate was 3.0%. Monthly inflation was 0.4% in August 2012.
Environment: One month left for cities to apply for the European Green Capital Award 2015
Cities across Europe with more than 200,000 inhabitants still have time to apply for the title of European Green Capital 2015. The deadline for applications for the 2015 title is 15 October 2012. Winning the award enhances a city’s reputation and attractiveness as a place for people to visit, work and live in. The award also facilitates an exchange of environmental best practice across European cities. Participating in the European Green Capital Award is a valuable experience as preparing the application is a useful tool to measure progress, enabling a city to benchmark itself against other cities and showcase sustainable activities to its citizens and stakeholders. The applicants will be assessed on the basis of 12 indicators including sustainable local transport, the promotion of nature and biodiversity and waste and water management. The title is awarded by an international jury supported by a panel of renowned experts in different environmental fields. The winner will be announced in June 2013. Cities can apply online at www.europeangreencapital.eu .
Ozone layer: Statement by Commissioner Hedegaard on 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol
Sunday 16 September is International Ozone Day and also marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer. Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, made the following statement: "The Montreal Protocol has achieved a lot. The atmospheric concentrations of the man-made chemicals which attack the ozone layer most aggressively are now falling. This is thanks to the phase-out of their production and consumption which is under way. Much remains to be done, but scientific evidence shows the ozone layer should recover fully by the second half of this century provided the Protocol continues to be applied. The EU has been a leader. We have implemented what has been agreed, and on many occasions we have moved faster in phasing out dangerous substances than the Protocol requires. Montreal has also done a huge amount to combat climate change. Many ozone-depleting substances are also very powerful greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming, so it is doubly good for the environment that they are being phased out." Commissioner Hedegaard also pointed to the need for agreement on a global phase-down of HFC gases as soon as possible. She added that the Montreal Protocol held important lessons for a new global climate agreement as it is legally binding and excludes those that refuse to participate from sharing in its benefits. Further information: Full statement + Video statement by Commissioner Hedegaard ; European Commission web page on ozone layer protection ; Montreal Protocol website .
Aviation security: the EU and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) move to enhance co-operation
The EU and ICAO today made a pledge towards closer co-operation in aviation security, on the occasion of a high-level conference in Montreal. The conference addresses important issues concerning global civil aviation security. The two parties are seeking further cooperation within the framework of a Memorandum of Cooperation that entered into force earlier this year (see IP/11/540). International rules and policies drawn up by ICAO translate into EU legislation and policy, particularly in the domain of aviation security. As such, it is important for the EU to engage effectively in ICAO's activities in order to contribute to defining approaches which apply to the global market place in which Europe's air transport industry operates.
(for more information: H. Kearns - Tel. +32 229 87638 - Mobile +32 498 98 7638)
Commissioner Damanaki to discuss fisheries and maritime affairs in Slovenia
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will be in Slovenia on 17-18 September. During her stay, Commissioner Damanaki will meet Minister for Agriculture and Environment Franc Bogovič, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Zvone Černač, and members of the Committee for Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Environment of the National Assembly. The visit focuses on Slovenian fisheries and maritime affairs, discussions on the EU's Common Fisheries Policy reform and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The reformed fisheries policy will aim at preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels for the benefit of current and future generations by managing fisheries in a responsible, science-based way. On 17 September, Commissioner Damanaki will discuss the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy with Slovenian fishermen and non-governmental organisations, and visit the port of Izola for a presentation of the Slovenian fishing fleet. On 18 September, the Commissioner will be in Ljubljana for meetings with ministers and members of Parliament. A joint press conference with Minister Bogovič will take place in Ljubljana on 18 September.
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