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EXME 12 / 28.09
Midday Express of 2012-09-28
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Every year thousands of unaccompanied minors travel to Europe seeking a new life. The majority has fled from wars, conflicts or other difficult living conditions and some have even lost family members along the way. Today in a report on the situation of unaccompanied minors in the EU, the Commission calls for improved efforts at both national and European level to respond effectively and in full respect of the rights of the child to this complex transnational challenge.
Brussels, 28 September 2012: The employment and social situation in the EU remained very serious in the second quarter of 2012 with unemployment rising overall but also displaying significant differences between Member States, households' financial situation deteriorating and child poverty increasing. The EU has been in recession or on the verge of it since late 2011 and the overall economic sentiment is at its lowest level in three years. In this context, job-finding prospects remain poor compared to pre-crisis years. Greece and Austria recorded the highest number of hours worked by full-time employed persons in the first quarter of 2012, while Finland, Italy and Ireland recorded the lowest number. These are amongst the main findings of the latest Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review.
The European Commission has prolonged EU guidelines on state aid for the rescue and restructuring of companies in financial difficulty. The Commission is currently reflecting on a review of the guidelines in the context of the recently launched state aid modernisation (SAM) initiative (see IP/12/458) and will launch in due time a public consultation on reform proposals.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the UK dairy farmers' cooperative Milk Link by fellow cooperative Arla Foods. The clearance is conditional upon the divestment of Milk Link's sole long-life milk processing facility located in Devon (UK). The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have significantly reduced competition on the UK market for long-life milk by bringing together the two leading suppliers of this product in the UK. The commitments offered by the parties address these concerns.
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger welcomed yesterday's signature of a political agreement allowing the go-ahead of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline project (TAP). TAP is a 20 billion cubic metres per annum (bcma) pipeline between Italy, Albania and Greece.
WTO Boeing case: EU requests to impose countermeasures against the US
The European Union asked the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body on 27 September to allow the imposition of countermeasures against the United States in the "Boeing case". This follows the EU’s assessment that the United States had not lived up to its obligation to remove its illegal subsidies in the aircraft sector, as required by the WTO rulings that clearly condemned US subsidies to Boeing. The requested countermeasures would amount to up to US$ 12 billion annually, based on estimates of the damages suffered by the EU due to unfair and biased competition from the US industry. The EU request is based on Article 22.2 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding. For further information: IP/12/1036 : EU's request for authorisation of countermeasures; IP/12/1015 : The US fails to meet its obligations in the WTO Boeing case
GMOs: Appeal Committee delivers no opinion on GM maize
At a GMO Appeal Committee meeting yesterday, Member States failed to take a position on a Commission proposal for the authorisation of GM maize MIR162 for use in food and feed, as well as for import and processing (not for cultivation). Consequently, the decision now lies with the Commission. In the EU, all GMO products must undergo an authorisation procedure in order to ensure that their placing on the market does not pose a risk for human and animal health and for the environment. MIR162 received a favourable EFSA opinion in June 2012. This GMO is an insect resistant maize. Regarding studies on toxicology, MIR162 has been tested through a 28 day oral toxicity study and a 90-day feeding study of grain from MIR162 in rats. These two studies have not identified adverse effects. The proposal had already been presented by the Commission to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) on 10 September 2012 where no opinion, either for or against, was returned. As a result of yesterday's inconclusive vote, and in line with new rules introduced by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, it is now for the Commission to decide on the adoption of this decision. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biotechnology/index_en.htm
Transport: EU and Sri Lanka sign horizontal air services agreement
The European Commission, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka signed yesterday, 27 September 2012, an aviation agreement which will restore a sound legal basis for developing future aviation relations between Sri Lanka and EU Member States. This "horizontal air services agreement" will bring several provisions in bilateral air services agreements between 14 EU Member States and Sri Lanka on a sound legal footing by ensuring compliance with EU legislation. It will, in particular, remove nationality restrictions in bilateral air services agreements and will thereby allow any EU airline to operate flights between Sri Lanka and any EU Member State in which it is established, where a bilateral agreement between the EU Member State concerned and Sri Lanka already exists and traffic rights are available. The agreement represents an important step towards strengthening aviation relations and enhancing overall cooperation with Sri Lanka, while encouraging traffic between the EU and Sri Lanka. Air transport is crucial for relations between the EU and Sri Lanka, linking people, cultures and businesses. In 2011, the total number of air passengers travelling between the EU and Sri Lanka increased by nearly 11% to approximately 520,000 passengers. For more information on the EU and international aviation please see:
Transport: Commission seeks to increase cooperation with International Maritime Organization
The European Commission and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have common goals to pursue and will keep up and strengthen a cooperation that has already proved to be fruitful in the past. This emerged from the meeting today in London between Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, and IMO's Secretary General Koji Sekimizu. Among the issues discussed were the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in shipping; sustainable development proposals, anti-piracy measures; passenger ship safety initiatives; and container vessel safety. Vice-President Kallas said that by working together both organisations would be able to make significant progress in their respective policy goals, therefore contact and exchanges of views between IMO and the different Commission services should be further encouraged.
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 2.7% in September 2012, up from 2.6% in August. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, energy (9.2% compared with 8.9% in August) is expected to have the highest annual rate in September, followed by food, alcohol & tobacco (2.9% compared with 3.0%), services (2.0% compared with 1.8%) and non-energy industrial goods (0.8% compared with 1.1%).
The European Union today asked the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body to allow the imposition of countermeasures against the United States in the "Boeing case". This follows the EU’s assessment that the United States had not lived up to its obligation to remove its illegal subsidies in the aircraft sector, as required by the WTO rulings that clearly condemned US subsidies to Boeing.
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