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EXME 12 / 18.09

Midday Express of 2012-09-18

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Ireland: Commission gives green light for €1 billion disbursement and publishes staff working paper on EU-IMF programme

The Commission has completed the seventh review of the EU-IMF programme for Ireland and the Commission services have published a working paper assessing programme implementation as well as prospects and risks. With the completion of the review, the Commission authorises the disbursement of €1 billion to the country. An additional €0.7 billion is also expected to be disbursed from bilateral EU donors. This would bring total EU funding disbursed to Ireland so far to approximately €36.6 billion (€33.8 billion from the EFSM/EFSF; €2.8 billion from bilateral EU donors) since the launch of the programme in late 2010. The Commission services' working paper notes that the strong track record of policy implementation continues in Ireland, despite a challenging domestic and external backdrop. The fiscal deficit for 2012 is projected to be within the programme ceiling of 8.6%, continued progress is being made in repairing the country's banking system so that it can support the economy, and important structural reforms are being implemented. Reflecting this strong performance, and the 29th June statement from euro area Heads of State and Government, recognising the imperative of severing the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns and mandating the Eurogroup to examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with a view to enhancing the sustainability of the well-performing programme, market sentiment towards Ireland has improved significantly in recent months, as attested by a marked decline in Irish bond yields, enabling Ireland's successful return to bond markets over the summer. Notwithstanding these achievements, significant challenges lie ahead for the Irish economy. These include the still large fiscal deficit, the country's high and increasingly long-term unemployment rate and the high private sector debt overhang. The working paper acknowledges that the programme's ultimate success remains subject to important risks, including continued uncertainties in the outlook for trading partners' growth – and the impact of these uncertainties on the fiscal path – and the complexity of the ongoing financial sector reforms in a context of strong sovereign-banking links. The report is available here:

High level group to focus on excellence in teaching

Higher education is crucial for developing the knowledge and skills that Europe needs to compete in the world economy, but Member States are not investing enough to modernise their higher education systems. A new High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education, launched by the European Commission today, will address this issue as part of a comprehensive three-year review of the sector across the European Union. The group, chaired by Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, will focus this year on how best to achieve excellence in teaching and then, next year, it will discuss how to adapt learning in the digital age. The Group will identify best practices and creative solutions, as well as making recommendations to national and European policy makers, universities and colleges. It will report for the first time in 2013 and has a mandate until 2015.

EU Sport Forum: Sport leaders and Ministers step up fight against match-fixing

Representatives of Europe's sport movement and Sport Ministers will pledge to step up their fight against match-fixing when they meet at the EU Sport Forum, organised by the European Commission in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 19-20 September. They are expected to endorse a 'Declaration on the fight against match-fixing'. The Forum, which coincides with an informal meeting of EU Sport Ministers, will also discuss issues such as the contribution of sport to the EU economy, future EU funding for grass-roots sport, and the promotion of physical activity and active ageing.

EU - China Summit - EU27 deficit in trade in goods with China down to 67 bn euro in the first six months of 2012

EU27 international trade in goods with China has grown significantly over the last decade. EU27 exports to China rose continuously from 26 billion euro in 2000 to 136 bn in 2011. Despite the general decline in EU27 exports in 2009, EU27 exports to China continued to increase. EU27 imports from China rose from 75 bn in 2000 to 248 bn in 2008, then declined to 214 bn in 2009, following the general downwards trend in EU27 imports, before reaching a new peak of 293 bn in 2011. As a result, the EU27 trade deficit with China which had increased from 49 bn in 2000 to a peak of 170 bn in 2008, fell to 156 bn in 2011. The data for the first six months of 2012 show a continued growth in EU27 exports to China, while imports remained nearly stable. EU27 exports to China rose from 66 bn in the first six months of 2011 to 73 bn in the first six months of 2012, while imports stabilised at just over 140 bn. As a result, the trade deficit decreased from 75 bn to 67 bn. In the first six months of 2012, China was the EU27's second most important trading partner after the USA, accounting for 9% of EU27 exports and 16% of EU27 imports.

Digital Agenda: Commission and European industry commit to bigger and better robotics sector

The European Commission, industry and academia have agreed to launch a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in Robotics, to help Europe-based companies take a larger share of the €15.5 billion annual global robotics market. Representatives from European robotics manufacturers, research institutes joined European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes in signing a Memorandum of Understanding, the first step towards a PPP launch in 2013. The Commission believes that the future PPP will strengthen the EU robotics sector.

Major investment for an EU scientific research hub in Romania gets the go ahead

Support for a cutting edge research facility that will involve 40 research and academic institutions from 13 Member States was today approved by the European Commission. The financial contribution from the EU would come from the Structural Funds with an investment of almost EUR 180 million. It is part of a wider initiative with the Czech Republic and Hungary to make up a pioneering European research consortium.

European Cooperation Day: sharing borders, growing closer

Celebrating the achievements of European regions and countries working together across borders. That is what is behind European Co-operation Day which for the first time will be marked on the same day across Europe, both in EU member states and neighbouring countries.

Transport and Innovation: Commission pushes to accelerate development and market uptake of new transport technologies

The European Commission launches today an initiative to coordinate and focus European research and innovation in transport. The aim is to speed up the deployment of new transport means and solutions to achieve a competitive and affordable European transport system. The definition of a set of roadmaps focusing on the deployment of technologies and innovation in 10 critical areas of transport will start in September 2012.

New support for civil society and media in Jordan

New funding of €9 million for the media in Jordan was approved by the European Commission. The support will help to establish free, independent and high quality journalism by developing training programmes and institutions for media professionals, helping to design and establish an independent regulatory body and an independent media council with a code of conduct to be developed by media and journalist organisations.

EU and FC Barcelona team up against smoking

This morning, Health & Consumer Policy Commissioner, Mr John Dalli, FC Barcelona President Mr Sandro Rosell, and the Club's Medical Director, Dr Jordi Monés, officialised a partnership between the football club and the Commission's " Ex-smokers are Unstoppable " campaign. The partnership, christened " Quit Smoking with Barça ", brings together two major campaigns - the pan-EU "Ex-smokers are Unstoppable" and Barça's "Sense Fum" movement. With tobacco accounting for nearly 700 000 premature deaths per year in the EU, both parties have declared their commitment to reduce the burden of smoking and tobacco-related disease and death. Today also sees the launch of the "Ex-smokers" iCoach tool as a mobile app. Available both for iOS and Android systems, the app will offer iCoach users ease of access to this valuable digital/mobile health coach while they are on the move. The App is available via , and in the Apple Store under "Ex-smokers iCoach".

Vice President Antonio Tajani visits European Chemicals Agency

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani will be visiting the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki. Antonio Tajani will meet staff from ECHA to discuss how the Agency and REACH can promote the competitiveness and innovation of the EU chemical sector. With a view to the upcoming registration deadline on 31 May 2013, Tajani will also discuss on how to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the registration procedure. By the deadline all substances manufactured or imported above 100 tons per year will have to be registered with ECHA. Giorgio Squinzi, President of CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, will participate in the visit providing industry's views on those topics. More information on ECHA

Autre matériel diffusé :

Statement following the meeting between President Barroso and Prime Minister Ponta

Memo "President Barroso shares his views on culture and the future of Europe with European artists and intellectuals from the cultural world "

Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Nishani, President of Albania

Memo "Press statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following his meeting with Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - rediffusion

Memo "Research and innovation for Europe's future mobility"

Speech by Vice President Siim Kallas: "Europe's railways at a junction: signals for change"

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