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EXME 12 / 01.10
Midday Express of 2012-10-01
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Flavouring substances in food will become even safer and more transparent thanks to two pieces of legislation adopted today by the European Commission. Only those flavouring substances featuring on the approved lists will be permitted for use by the food industry. Used to alter the taste and/or odour of food, flavourings substances have a long history of safe use in a wide variety of foods, such as soft drinks, confectionery, cereals, cakes and yoghurts, and have now been evaluated at EU level.
Complaints are often aired about the red tape created by European law. We want to cut red tape. We can cut red tape. However, there is a definite lack of concrete proposals to reduce this burden. With this in mind, the European Commission is calling upon businesses: "Let us know what could be done better - we would like your ideas for reducing red tape!" — the leitmotif of a consultation launched today by the Commission. This consultation process for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and their representative organisations, will help to identify the top ten EU legislative acts considered most burdensome by micro-companies and SMEs. It will run until 21 December 2012, and once complete, the Commission will analyse the results and consider how situation for SMEs could be improved.
The euro area1 (EA17) seasonally-adjusted2 unemployment rate3 was 11.4% in August 2012, stable compared with July4. The EU271 unemployment rate was 10.5% in August 2012, also stable compared with July4. In both zones, rates have risen compared with August 2011, when they were 10.2% and 9.7% respectively.
The Europe 2020 strategy1, adopted by the European Council in June 2010, aims at establishing a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The key objectives of the strategy are expressed in the form of five targets on employment, research & development, climate change & energy, education and poverty & social exclusion. These targets are monitored on the basis of headline indicators that Eurostat2 compiles and publishes.
A positive approach to ageing
"The key is to ensure that, as people grow older, they can continue to contribute to the economy and society, and to look after themselves for as long as possible". This is the message that Lazlso Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion is delivering today at the Third Age Conference in Ireland, celebrating the International Day of Older People. Andor makes a strong point that active ageing is an essential response to the challenges presented by the ageing population and represents an important contribution to the success of the Europe 2020 Strategy in terms of employment and poverty-reduction targets. Andor reminds that 2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, underlines that its key objective is to change attitudes to ageing and mentions a few concrete activities launched in that context. Last, Andor congratulates Ireland for its many active ageing programmes that are already operational or in development and encourages it to continue working towards the active participation of older people to employment and society. "I trust that all the good work will continue beyond this year" he concludes. See SPEECH/12/664
Commission approves public funding for high speed fibre broadband network in Sardinia, exploiting synergies from concomitant works for gas network
The European Commission has found an Italian project to finance a high speed broadband network in Sardinia to be in line with EU state aid rules. The cost for the project, known as BULGAS/FIBRESAR, will be reduced through cost-saving opportunities offered by concomitant civil works for the rollout of a gas distribution network in the same region. The Italian authorities intend to lay a next generation fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network for the public administration alongside the gas distribution network and to make it available to commercial operators to offer advanced connectivity services to citizens and business in Sardinia. The Commission's investigation found in particular that the project covers areas that are not profitable for commercial investors, grants effective and non-discriminatory wholesale access to the network, reuses existing infrastructures, does not favour any given technology and ensures a structural separation between the network wholesale manager and the retail operators, in line with the EU broadband guidelines (see IP/09/1332 and MEMO/09/396). The measure is an example of good practice for the rollout of such next generation networks, where the most discouraging element for commercial investors is represented by the high costs for civil works. More information on the case is available under SA.34732 .
Economics of Animal Health Conference: a price worth paying?
As part of the 5th EU Veterinary Week, the European Commission is organising a conference in Brussels on 3 October on the "Economics of animal health: a price worth paying?" The food sector is the largest single economic sector within the EU. The value of livestock farming in the EU alone is €149 billion per year. Good animal health is critical in ensuring the viability and sustainability of that sector and the safe functioning of the internal market in animal products and food, which is a concern for all European citizens. Moreover, animal health is critical to ensure access of EU animal products to non-EU markets that has become increasingly important over recent years. Gathering vets, policy makers and senior experts of local, regional, national and international authorities who will discuss issues relating to the importance of animal health and its role in the economy, animal health as a driver for development, allocating resources for improved animal health, trade versus risks and how to ensure reasonably priced livestock. The conference will be webstreamed live and viewers can interact through twitter and email their questions to the speakers. For more information, including the conference agenda: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/information_sources/ahw_events_en.htm
Andris Piebalgs attends the International Cooperation Forum in Milan, Italy
Today, EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, participates at the International Cooperation Forum in Milan and meets Andrea Riccardi, Italian Minister for International Cooperation. The Commissioner will discuss the importance of EU's contribution to international cooperation, EU priorities for development policy such as food security and post-2015 development agenda. The importance of the next EU multiannual budget (2014-2020) for development will also be discussed. The event in Milan will gather citizens, young people, experts and social actors operating in the field of international cooperation together with the major national Institutions and Ministries from European and developing countries. Commissioner Piebalgs will contribute to this dialogue between all actors who want development cooperation to be part of the EU's identity.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of the German dairy farmers' cooperative Milch-Union Hocheifel by fellow cooperative Arla Foods. The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, because it would not significantly alter the market structure and the merged entity would continue to face sufficient competition.
The European Commission has informed thirteen companies active in the production and/or distribution of retail food packaging of its preliminary view that they may have participated in a cartel in the European Economic Area (EEA) for up to eight years, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.
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