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EXME 12 / 22.10

Midday Express of 2012-10-22

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Enterprise Europe Network reaches India and Canada, expands in China

The Enterprise Europe Network is opening the doors for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to key international markets, with new branches to open in India and Canada and a reinforced presence in China. This was announced at the Network's annual conference in Cyprus today. India is the latest country set to join the Network, with three new centres to start operating in New Delhi. An office will also shortly open in Canada, while four new branches in Shanghai and Nanjing have brought China's total to 27.

High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton travels to the Middle East

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission, is in Jordan today for the first leg of a five-day visit to the Middle East. On Monday 22 October, she will meet with King Abdullah II and Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh in Amman. She will also visit the Zaatary Refugee camp and meet with refugees from the crisis in Syria.

Euro area and EU27 government deficit at 4.1% and 4.4% of GDP respectively and government debt at 87.3% and 82.5%

In 2011, the government deficit of both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 decreased in absolute terms compared with 2010, while the government debt rose in both zones. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 6.2% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2011, and in the EU27 from 6.5% to 4.4%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 85.4% at the end of 2010 to 87.3% at the end of 2011, and in the EU27 from 80.0% to 82.5%.

Commission clears the acquisition of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company by the Russian bank VTB and the Bulgarian Corporate Commercial Bank

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by OAO VTB Bank (''VTB'', the Russian Federation) and Corporate Commercial Bank AD (''Corporate Commercial Bank'', Bulgaria) of the undertaking Bulgarian Telecommunications Company AD (''Bulgarian Telecommunications Company'', Bulgaria). VTB is a financial institution active internationally. Corporate Commercial Bank is a financial institution active in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Telecommunications Company is a provider of telecommunications and digital television in Bulgaria. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Food safety: Commission reviews measures on imports from Japan

Experts meeting in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) endorsed a Commission proposal to revise rules on import conditions of food and feed originating from Japan following the Fukushima nuclear accident. Existing restrictions for food and feed imports coming from the prefecture Fukushima are maintained whereas control measures have been eased for several other prefectures. For the prefecture Fukushima, the existing measures applying to all food and feed, with the exception of alcoholic beverages, are maintained until 31 March 2014. Based on over 40,000 samples of products harvested in the second growing season after the nuclear accident, the restrictive measures in place have been eased for 11 prefectures (Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Iwate, Chiba and Kanagawa). An interim review is foreseen before 31 March 2013 for crops where samples of products for the second growing season (March-November) were not available in time for this review. For the control at import, a reduction of the frequency of controls to 5% will apply. Based on the monitoring results from the 2013 growing season, it is foreseen to undertake a review of these measures shortly before 31 March 2014. The measures will be published at the end of this month following the adoption of the proposal by the Commission and are foreseen to enter into force on 1 November 2012.

Animal Welfare: Commission seeks smooth implementation of animal slaughter rules

A conference co-organised by the European Commission and the Cypriot Presidency of the EU on the "Protection of animals in slaughterhouses: getting ready for 2013" will take place in Brussels on 24 October 2012. Gathering a broad range of participants from national and international organisations, competent authorities, vets, producers and NGO's, the aim is to ensure smooth implementation of the new animal slaughter rules, to provide a platform for exchanging experiences with representatives from the meat supply chain and to present state-of-the-art technologies related to animal slaughter. The new rules will come into force on 1 January 2013 and will better integrate animal welfare considerations into the design and operations of slaughterhouses' who will need to regularly monitor the efficiency of their stunning techniques, appoint a specific person responsible for animal welfare and ensure that their staff is properly trained and certified. Every year, nearly 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry are killed in slaughterhouses for their meat in the EU. In addition, about 25 million animals are killed for their fur. The control of contagious diseases may also require the culling of thousands to millions of other animals. For conference details: ; ;

Towards faster deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Europe

Progress in implementing intelligent transport systems is being discussed today in Vienna, at the annual ITS conference organised by the European Commission, and officially opened by Vice-President Siim Kallas. The event looks at how ICT technology can help to solve many problems affecting transport, focusing on what measures could lift existing barriers. The Commission will explain the main elements of the first ITS specifications adopted under the ITS directive . These specifications concern: eCall, traffic information relating to road safety, and information services for safe and secure parking for trucks and commercial vehicles. This event also welcomes the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge and discusses legal barriers to the deployment of intelligent transport systems. This 3rd ITS conference brings together three hundred high-level representatives from institutional stakeholders, industry, public and private transport operators and service providers, as well as local governments and other key ITS experts in the European Union and beyond. The European Commission will explain the main elements of the first ITS specifications to be adopted under the ITS directive . This directive aims to accelerate the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the European Union. Under the directive, the Commission is empowered to adopt specifications to address the compatibility, interoperability and continuity of ITS solutions across the European Union. The first specifications will address the provision of safety-related traffic information free of charge to users, as well as the harmonised provision of an EU-wide eCall and the provision of information services for safe and secure truck parking. The Commission will also address the legal implications of handling personal data in ITS applications and liability issues in the delivery of ITS applications, which constitute potential barriers to the uptake of ITS services. In addition, the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge, launched by Vice-President Kallas in June 2011, will present their innovative solutions for European multimodal journey planners. The availability and promotion of multimodal journey planners – providing information on travelling time and routing alternatives – is a key element to ensure seamless door-to-door mobility. See conference website: ITS in DG MOVE: ITS World Congress 2012 :

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