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EXME 12 / 11.16
Midday Express of 2012-16-11
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Health spending per person and as a percentage of GDP fell across the European Union in 2010. This is one of the many findings in the "Health at a Glance: Europe 2012", a new joint report by the OECD and the European Commission. From an annual average growth rate of 4.6% between 2000 and 2009, health spending per person fell to -0.6% in 2010. This is the first time that health spending has fallen in Europe since 1975.
A Protocol on the Elimination of the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the main achievement of a conference in Seoul, South Korea, which will conclude its works tomorrow. Signed on 12th November, the Protocol was negotiated by the European Commission, on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Protocol forces the Parties to implement effective measures to eliminate the illicit manufacturing and trading of tobacco products, which causes losses, in the EU and Member States, of approximately €10 billion per year. Effective measures against illicit products also ensure that the safeguards of tobacco control legislation, e.g. on ingredients control or labelling, are better respected.
A unique approach to supporting start-ups by helping society’s most vulnerable groups to find work through self-employment and enterprise, created by the UK organisation Outset, was announced today as the winner of the 6th European Enterprise Promotion Awards. Cyprus, Sweden, Italy, Portugal and Turkey also received prizes for driving enterprise with new and innovative local solutions.
The European Commission today adopted an Action Plan to address the problem of incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears. Scientific evidence has shown that high numbers of seabird species including albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, auks, sea ducks and divers are being caught in fishing gear every year. Measures taken so far to protect seabirds from being entangled in fishing gear have been ineffective. The new Action Plan sets up a management framework to minimise seabird bycatch to the lowest levels practically possible. It focuses on long line and static net fisheries where seabird bycatch are known to be highest, although other gears such as trawls and purse seines are also covered by the plan. It entails a wide range of elements under 30 recommended actions that are a combination of binding and non-binding measures. The rules will apply to EU fishing vessels inside and outside EU waters as well as non-EU vessels operating in EU waters.
Marine litter is a serious threat to the coastal and marine environment around the globe. Marine habitats are contaminated with man-made garbage and other waste, posing growing environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems. The European Commission is raising awareness about this global problem, in line with commitments made in Rio this summer to reduce the incidence and impacts of such pollution on marine ecosystems.
The European Commission is increasing by one million euros its funding for victims of recent inter-communal violence in Rakhine state in Burma/Myanmar. Thousands of people have been left homeless by the fresh outbreak.
The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in September 2012 gave a 9.8 bn euro surplus, compared with +1.7 bn in September 2011. The August 2012 balance was +5.2 bn, compared with -5.9 bn in August 2011. In September 2012 compared with August 2012, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 1.1% and imports by 2.7%. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The first estimate for the September 2012 extra-EU27 trade in goods balance was a 12.6 bn euro deficit, compared with -10.9 bn in September 2011. The August 2012 balance was -13.2 bn, compared with -22.5 bn in August 2011. In September 2012 compared with August 2012, seasonally adjusted exports decreased by 1.5% and imports by 1.7%.
New EU assistance for Somalia to improve education, security, governance and economic development
The European Union (EU) has announced new funding to Somalia for improving governance, strengthening security, as well as working towards better education and economic development. Among other things, the funding (€158 million) will support the national administration, the justice sector and the police by providing basic infrastructure, equipment and training. It will also assist in the organisation of free and fair elections. In the field of education, the EU will increase access to quality education at all levels, and start a new education programme in the refugee camps of Dadaab (Kenya) to broaden the (currently very limited) access to education for Somali refugee children and young people there. With regard to economic development, the EU will particularly focus on the livestock sector, fisheries and crop production. Actions help to improve veterinary services and the trade and marketing of livestock. The EU will also provide training to farmers on the sustainable management of rangelands, and establish a better information system on climate change, drought and flood alerts. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/documents/aap/2012/pr_aap_2012_som.pdf
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has today welcomed a delegation led by Nobel laureates Sir Tim Hunt and Professor Jules Hoffman to the European Commission. They have presented President Barroso, in addition to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, with an open letter, signed by 44 Nobel laureates and 6 Fields medallists. The letter emphasises the importance of EU funding for research and innovation, and warns against the consequences of budget cuts in these areas. The delegation also highlighted a petition in support of this cause, to date signed by more than 130 000 people from Europe and around the globe.
An efficient, interconnected and transparent European internal energy market will offer citizens and businesses secure and sustainable energy supplies at lowest possible cost. With today's Communication on how to make the internal energy market work the Commission calls on Member States to step up their efforts to transpose and implement the existing EU internal energy market rules. The Commission will work with Member States to empower consumers and to reduce state interventions which distort markets.
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