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EXME 12 / 17.09
Midday Express of 2012-09-17
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The role and responsibilities of Eurostat, the EU statistical office, have been clarified and reinforced in a Decision adopted by the Commission today. This is another important step forward in ensuring high quality, reliable and independent European statistics. Today's Decision reflects the need to strengthen the governance of European statistics, taking into account significant developments in recent years, not least the central role that Eurostat now plays in European economic governance. Through the Decision, the Commission pledges to uphold the independence of Eurostat and it's Director-General in their tasks, and ensure high-quality standards are respected for European statistics.
The 5th European Union-South Africa Summit will take place in Brussels on Tuesday 18 September 2012. The EU will be represented by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and by José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. The Republic of South Africa will be represented by President Jacob Zuma. Commissioners for Trade Karel de Gucht, for Development Andris Piebalgs and for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will also be attending the Summit on the European side. Foreign Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, as well as the ministers for Trade, Finance, Science & Technology, Energy, and Transport will accompany President Zuma on the South African side.
Myanmar/Burma is set to benefit once again from a special, advantageous trade arrangement with the EU following recognition by the international community of the country's recent efforts to improve the political, social and labour environments there. Today the European Commission has adopted a proposal to bring the country back under the so-called 'Everything But Arms' preferential trade regime which would grant duty-free and quota-free access to the European market for all products except for arms and ammunitions.
Hundreds of European towns and cities will participate in the 11th edition of European Mobility Week from 16 to 22 September 2012. Citizens are invited to join in activities promoting alternative modes of transport and reducing private car use. This year’s focus, "Moving in the right direction" aims to raise awareness of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans and how to better involve citizens and local stakeholders in the planning process.
The future of mobility in our cities is being discussed today at a conference where Vice-President Siim Kallas will be joined by representatives from the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, and will meet with key stakeholders. The European Commission will announce the launch of a public consultation, giving citizens and all interested parties the opportunity to contribute to the future development of the EU's urban transport policy. The event also marks the tenth anniversary of the Civitas Initiative – the European Commission's city-led research programme.
The global research landscape is evolving rapidly, with the share of BRIC countries in worldwide R&D expenditure doubling between 2000 and 2009. Issues such as climate change, food security or fighting diseases increasingly require a concerted international research effort. Europe can only maximise the excellence of its science base and innovative industries by being open to international cooperation and to the best brains in the world. The European Commission has therefore today set out a new strategy for developing international cooperation in research and innovation. The strategy proposes to further focus cooperation on EU strategic priorities while maintaining the tradition of openness to third country participation in EU research. This includes addressing global challenges, but also making Europe more attractive as a location for research and innovation, and boosting industrial competitiveness.
Hourly labour costs in the euro area (EA17) rose by 1.6% in the year up to the second quarter of 2012, compared with 1.5% for the first quarter of 2012. In the EU27, the annual rise was 1.8% up to the second quarter of 2012, compared with 1.4% for the previous quarter. The two main components of labour costs are wages & salaries and non-wage costs. In the euro area, wages & salaries per hour worked grew by 1.7% and the non-wage component by 1.2% in the year up to the second quarter of 2012, compared with 1.6% and 1.3% respectively for the previous quarter. In the EU27, hourly wages & salaries rose by 1.9% and the non-wage component by 1.4% in the year up to the second quarter of 2012, compared with 1.5% and 1.6% respectively for the first quarter of 2012.
EU launches prize for innovative public authorities
The European Commission has today launched a competition to find the most innovative public authorities in Europe. Up to nine prizes of €100,000 each will be awarded to successful, existing public initiatives that benefit citizens, firms or the education and research sector. The purpose of the prize is to encourage and highlight modern approaches to public spending, which accounted on average for half of EU gross domestic product in 2010. There is no pre-defined list of projects that could qualify. Examples could include: networking platforms for SME start-ups; initiatives that provide special assistance for the elderly, eco-friendly public transport, new approaches to vocational training or facilitating entrepreneurship of researchers. The competition is open to public authorities established in an EU Member state or a country associated to the EU's research framework programme. Submitted initiatives must have been on-going for between one and four years. The deadline for applications is February 15, 2013. The winners of the "European Prize for Innovation in Public Administration" will be selected on the basis of four criteria: the economic impact of their initiative; its relevance to challenges facing society; how original and easy to replicate the idea is; and how they plan to use the prize money. It is intended that prize money be used by winning administrations to scale up and expand their initiatives, thereby leveraging and inducing further excellence and innovation in the public sector. The prize winners are expected to be announced in spring 2013. For more information please visit the competition website: www.ec.europa.eu/admin-innovators
EU to promote sustainable fishing at NAFO Annual Meeting
The European Commission will represent the EU at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) to be held from 17 to 21 September in St Petersburg, Russia. NAFO members will discuss total allowable catches (TACs) for the main NAFO fish stocks, including Greenland halibut, cod, redfish, shrimps, and thorny skates. The Annual Meeting will also look into ways to step up the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, based on the scientific advice and the recommendations of a dedicated Working Group within NAFO. The EU will push for NAFO to continue to step up sustainable management of its fish stocks and protection of the marine ecosystems. Adopting an action plan to implement the recommendations of the NAFO performance review panel would significantly contribute to that. NAFO is a regional fisheries management organisation which manages most fishery resources of the Northwest Atlantic. It has 12 members from North America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, the EU being one of them.
The authorities in Jordan have officially requested urgent assistance through the European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) to help the country cope with the influx of tens of thousands of Syrian Refugees.
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