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EXME 12 / 07.11
Midday Express of 2012-11-07
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
In a strategic Communication adopted today, the Commission examines how the implementation and development of the common visa policy could help growth in the EU by facilitating travel opportunities for third country nationals willing to visit the EU.
Citizens from 16 Caribbean and Pacific Islands will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area without needing a visa. This will open up to opportunities and advantages both for the EU and the nationals of these 16 nations. "Travelling without a visa is not just a symbolic gesture – it will have a direct impact on citizens of these countries and on EU citizens, in the form of more people-to-people contacts and business opportunities", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Inoxum, the stainless steel division of ThyssenKrupp of Germany, by the Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu. The approval is conditional upon the divestiture of Inoxum's stainless steel production facility in Terni, Italy. The Commission had concerns that the combination of the two largest suppliers of cold rolled steel products would have given the merged entity the power to raise prices. The commitments offered address these concerns.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed creation of a joint-venture between ARM, a UK semiconductor intellectual property ("IP") supplier, Giesecke & Devrient ("G&D") of Germany and Gemalto of the Netherlands, both providers of security solutions. The joint venture will develop and market trusted execution environments ("TEE") for consumer electronic devices. TEEs offer enhanced security services for applications such as mobile payments running on smartphones and tablets. The approval is subject to conditions. ARM will provide the necessary hardware information to competitors at the same conditions as to the joint venture to enable them to develop alternative TEE solutions. Moreover, ARM will not design its IP in a way that would degrade the performance of alternative TEE solutions. The Commission had concerns that the transaction as initially notified could have enabled ARM to shut out competitors of the joint venture from the market for TEE. The commitments offered by the companies address these concerns.
The European Commission has extended the scope of an in-depth investigation opened in October 2011 into public support measures in favour of companies of the former Tirrenia Group (see IP/11/1157), namely Tirrenia di Navigazione, Caremar, Laziomar, Saremar, Siremar and Toremar. The Commission will now also investigate whether several measures granted to these companies or their buyers after the opening of the investigation in October 2011 are in line with EU state aid rules. The extension of the investigation will give interested third parties an opportunity to comment on these additional measures. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission took an important step today towards long-term climate objectives by presenting a proposal to significantly reduce emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases). Emissions of F-gases, which have a warming effect up to 23,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen by 60% since 1990, while all other greenhouse gases have been reduced. The proposed Regulation aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today's levels by 2030. It also bans the use of F-gases in some new equipment, such as household fridges, where viable more climate-friendly alternatives are readily available.
In September 2012 compared with August 2012, the volume of retail trade fell by 0.2% in the euro area (EA17) and rose by 0.1% in the EU27. In August retail trade increased by 0.2% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU27. These first estimates come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In September 2012, compared with September 2011, the retail sales index fell by 0.8% in the euro area and increased by 0.3% in the EU27.
Kroes defends press freedom at Internet Governance Forum
Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has positioned the EU at the head of a global coalition of forces defending online freedom, and laid down a clear message to the Azerbaijan government, hosts of the 2012 Internet Governance Forum taking place in Baku. Speaking against the backdrop of harassment of activists at the conference, Kroes said in a speech today: “The Internet is not just a technology; and not just a space for business opportunities. The Internet is the new frontier of freedom and a new tool to exercise this freedom.” “The right to self-expression is safeguarded and championed by a free media. Journalists, bloggers, activists and human rights defenders are an instrument of democracy. "Holding up a torch to reveal acts of despotism. In this very country, we see many arbitrary restrictions on the media. We see the exercise of free speech effectively criminalised. We see violent attacks on journalists. And we see activists spied on online, violating the privacy of journalists and their sources. I condemn this. The restrictions must end.” “The Azeri government had promised earlier this year (before the Eurovision Song Context) to ensure press freedom, but the situation actually got worse.” “I want those in power, in Azerbaijan and elsewhere, to know that these repressive restrictions on media freedom, of whatever kind, are unacceptable.” ( SPEECH/12/784)
Support for innovation at EIT Stakeholders Conference in Cyprus
The future of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its planned expansion will be the focus of a major conference in Larnaca (Cyprus) on 8-9 November. Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will open the event, which is organised by the Cyprus Presidency. 250 experts from education, business, research and innovation will discuss how the EIT can contribute to addressing societal challenges. The Commission has proposed a budget of €3.2 billion for the EIT, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. Horizon 2020 is currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and Member States. For more information: MEMO/12/839 , EIT: http://eit.europa.eu/ European Commission: Education and training Androulla Vassiliou's websiteFollow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
Maria Damanaki to discuss international fisheries issues in Rome
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will be in Rome, Italy, on 8 November 2012 for a series of meetings with high-level personalities and organisations on key fisheries issues. She will meet FAO Director-General Mr Graziano da Silva and the staff of the organisation. More specifically, she will discuss cooperation issues between FAO and the European Union in the fight against IUU (Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated) fishing, port state measures, joint actions in the Mediterranean and Black Sea (including FAO projects supported by the EU) and aquaculture. Commissioner Damanaki will also meet the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) Executive Secretary Abdellah Srour and Professor Stefano Cataudella, Chair of the GFCM. They will discuss the reform of GFCM, especially the changes foreseen in the regional approach for long term management plans in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and the contribution of GFCM to the fight against IUU fishing in the Mediterranean. Maria Damanaki will conclude her visit to Rome with a meeting with Italian Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Mr Mario Catania. They will discuss the on-going reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, including the financial resources from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and other topical issues of interest to both parties.
Scientific support to financial analysis: How can science contribute to financial stability?
A high level roundtable will be held tomorrow 8 November in Brussels to discuss the important role that science can play for financial and economic issues. To restore confidence among depositors and investors, targeted reforms are necessary to create more transparent and better governed financial institutions. At the EU level, financial stability is a sinequanon to maximise the benefits of the internal market and generate growth and jobs. In this context, science will help evaluate the main sources of risk and vulnerability in financial stability in addition to helping to pave the way for clear-sighted debate and targeted, evidence-based structural reforms. Organised by the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), with the support of the College of Europe, the event will count on the participation of Michel Barnier, Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, MEPs Malcolm Harbour, Markus Ferber and Jean-Paul Gauzès, and Jan-Pieter Krahnen, member of the Liikanen Group. The seminar will also draw together, amongst others, high-level representatives from the European Central Bank, European Investment Bank, the European Banking Authority, the Bank for International Settlements and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions. This roundtable will provide an opportunity for debate among high-ranking financial experts, representatives of the science community, academics, heads of industry associations and policy makers. During the event, a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the JRC and the College of Europe, represented respectively by Dominique Ristori, Director-General and Professor Paul Demaret, Rector. Attendance is open to media, but registration is mandatory. To register, please send an email to JRC-PRESS@ec.europa.eu . The event will take place from 09:00h to 16:30h on Thursday 8 November at the Schuman room in the Berlaymont building (Rue de la Loi 200).Full programme: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/downloads/jrc_20121108_agenda.pdf
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