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EXME 12 / 30.11
Midday Express of 2012-11-30
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of ixetic Verwaltungs GmbH of Germany by Magna International Inc of Canada, both suppliers to the automotive industry. The Commission's investigation confirmed that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of strong competitors and that customers would still have sufficient alternative suppliers in all markets concerned.
Member States' performance in applying EU law last year is detailed in the 29th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of EU Law, published by the Commission today. Although there were fewer infringements in 2011 compared to previous years, the number of cases remained high and problematic in certain Member States and in specific policy areas.
The European Commission has adopted the second phase of the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility to enhance involvement of civil society organisations in the European Neighbourhood area. The goal is to support them in the policy dialogue with partner governments, to strengthen civil society's role in fostering public accountability and support their increased role in national reforms process and in local development agenda. The Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility will receive a new budget allocation of EUR 45.3 million for 2012-2013.
Taking knives off our streets, addressing cyber-bullying or fostering early detection of addictions – these are among the innovative crime prevention initiatives taking place across the EU as part of the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN). In a report presented today, the European Commission evaluates the efforts of the network to enhance safety and security for European citizens. The report concludes that many projects are taking place to inspire actors at local level, but that the network can improve its impact by focusing its initiatives more and working closer with key actors in the crime prevention field. The EUPCN is an EU-wide platform for exchanging best practices, research and information on how to prevent crime. Since 2001, the EUCPN has supported such activities, helping law enforcement officials, social and youth workers, healthcare professionals, teachers and academics, as well as policy makers at EU and national levels.
Europeans strongly believe that disabled people should be able to participate fully in society, according to a new survey by the European Commission released ahead of the European Day for People with Disabilities on 3 December. Among those asked, 97% said that people with disabilities should be able to go to school, get a job or access shops like anyone else. 7 in 10 respondents say better accessibility of goods and services would very much improve the lives of disabled people, the elderly and others, such as parents with young children. 84% believe more accessible goods and services would also create more opportunities for industry. Making Europe more accessible to those with a disability is a key part of the EU’s overall disability strategy ( IP/10/1505). The European Commission is currently preparing proposals for a European Accessibility Act set to come out in 2013. Today’s survey finds that 86% of Europeans believe similar accessibility solutions across Europe would enable disabled people to travel, study and work in another EU country and 78% think common rules would make it easier for companies to operate in the EU’s Single Market.
A project aiming at ensuring protection of 10 famous EU food names in China, the biggest consumer market in the world, has now been finalised. "Grana Padano", "Prosciutto di Parma" and "White Stilton cheese" / "Blue Stilton cheese" were the last of 10 EU names that have been protected as Geographical Indications in China as part of the so-called "10+10 project". In parallel, the European Commission has examined and registered 10 Chinese food names with the last 2 Chinese names "Pinggu da Tao" (peach) and "Dongshan Bai Lu Sun" (asparagus) receiving protected status in the EU as Geographical Indications. These 10 Chinese names have been added to the more than 1000 names of agricultural products and foodstuffs, which are protected in the EU (among them 13 non-EU GIs). Not only does the GI system provide an important protection against imitations, but it is also known to be a useful marketing tool.
The European Commission has announced the winners of this year's European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme Awards. The six winning organisations showed excellence in respecting and safeguarding the environment, and in applying innovative solutions to improve their water management. The awards were handed out at a ceremony in Brussels last night.
Euro area annual inflation is expected to be 2.2% in November 2012, down from 2.5% in October, according to a flash estimate from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Looking at the main components of euro area inflation, energy (5.8% compared with 8.0% in October) is expected to have the highest annual rate in November, followed by food, alcohol & tobacco (3.0% compared with 3.1%), services (1.7%, stable compared with October) and non-energy industrial goods (1.1%, stable compared with October).
The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.7% in October 2012, up from 11.6% in September. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.7% in October 2012, up from 10.6% in September. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with October 2011, when they were 10.4% and 9.9% respectively. These figures are published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Eurostat estimates that 25.913 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 18.703 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in October 2012. Compared with September 2012, the number of persons unemployed increased by 204 000 in the EU27 and by 173 000 in the euro area. Compared with October 2011, unemployment rose by 2.160 million in the EU27 and by 2.174 million in the euro area.
Commission clears acquisition of Marcolin by PAI
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by PAI of sole control of Marcolin. PAI, a French private equity firm which manages and advises dedicated private equity funds, is focused on investing in the acquisition of medium to large-sized companies, headquartered or managed in Europe, which operate in different industry sectors. Marcolin is the parent company of the Marcolin Group, which operates in Italy and abroad in the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of eyewear, notably eyeglass frames and sunglasses. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure
Transport: Conference on Fair and Efficient Road Pricing – 5 December 2012
The European Commission is organising a "Conference on Fair and Efficient Road Pricing" in Brussels on Wednesday, 5 December 2012. The Conference will be an opportunity to present the results of the public consultation on road pricing which closed on 4 November. High level speakers from the European Commission, the European Parliament, national administrations, industry and stakeholder organisations will present their views in sessions dedicated to the main topics of the public consultation: sustainable transport and infrastructure financing; seamless movement of people and goods; rights of road users. The list of speakers includes Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission in charge of transport, as well as Dominique Riquet, Saïd El Khadraoui, Gesine Meissner and Matthieu Grosch, Members of the European Parliament. Journalists are welcome to attend and are invited to register on the conference website http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/road/events/2012-12-05-road-pricing_en.htm .
Animal Health: EU earmarks €199 million to support measures to combat animal diseases and zoonoses
The EU has earmarked more than €199 million to support programmes to eradicate, control and monitor animal diseases and zoonoses, aiming to further strengthen the protection of human and animal health in 2013. Overall 137 programmes have been selected for EU funding to tackle animal diseases that impact on human and animal health as well as trade. The elected programmes were granted the following allocation: Bovine Tuberculosis (about €71 million); Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (about €54 million); Bovine Brucellosis (about €7.4 million), rabies (€25 million); Bluetongue (€1.5 million); Classical Swine Fever (€2.5 million); Salmonellosis (about €16.6 million); Avian influenza (€2.6 million) and African Swine Fever in Sardinia (€1.4 million). The allocation of financing will assist national authorities to control and eradicate these diseases, fund vaccination and carry out surveillance programmes in order to detect early outbreaks. It is worth mentioning that for Salmonellosis, which is the second most frequently reported zoonotic disease in humans, the number of cases has been steadily decreasing over the past five years with thanks to the Union co-financing. Moreover, thanks to the eradication programmes, the rabies (a fatal disease transmitted by animals to humans) situation in Member States continues also to improve and the increased level of co-financing (75%) will further assist the Member States in their final efforts to eradicate rabies. Continuing with the positive trend in terms of decrease in disease prevalence, the total amount has also decreased by €5 million on the previous year. As from 1 July 2013 the programmes submitted by Croatia will also be eligible for co-financing. For more information on animal diseases eradication: http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/diseases/index_en.htm
Commission rules on temporary free allowances for power plants in Hungary
The European Commission today approved Hungary's request for a continued free allocation of EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) allowances to its power sector in 2013. The Commission has taken this decision under provisions which allow certain Member States exemptions from the general rule that, from 2013 onwards, the power sector must buy all its emission allowances at auctions or in the market. Unlike other Member States, Hungary intends to use this option only in 2013. More than seven million free allowances will be allocated to power plants in Hungary in 2013. The Commission has already authorized requests for temporary free allowances from Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. In its decisions, the Commission does not raise objections to the applications, but in the case of Poland certain modifications are required. In total close to 680 million allowances will be allocated for free to power plants in these eight countries in the period 2013 to 2019. The number will be reduced each year, reaching zero in 2020. The Member States will put in place strict monitoring and enforcement rules to ensure that the economic value of free allowances is at least mirrored, if not exceeded, by a corresponding amount of investment in modernising its electricity generation. Q&As: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/auctioning/derogation/faq_en.htm
Research Commissioner to visit Silicon Saxony
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, will visit 'Silicon Saxony', the area around Dresden in Germany that has become one of the most important microchip clusters in Europe, December 3-4 to learn about the region's development plans. Saxony is a good example of a region that has used EU and national funding since German unification in 1990 to build up world class research infrastructure that it is now using to compete in the global race to develop new materials and technologies. During her trip, the Commissioner will visit the Helmholtz and Leibniz institutes, and TU Dresden, which all host top researchers holding European Research Council (ERC) grants. She will visit some of the region's main microchip makers (Infineon, Globalfoundries), a small solar company participating in a EU-funded research project (Heliatek), and also the Centre for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, established in 2006, which is seeking to develop treatments for diseases like Parkinson's and diabetes. A press conference is scheduled at the end of her trip on Tuesday.
Responding to the urgent needs of the Congolese population, the European Commission has requested from the European Union's budgetary authorities approval for the release of € 15 million to increase its humanitarian aid for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region. The recent escalation in fighting between the armed forces and the March 23 Movement (M23) has dramatically worsened the humanitarian situation in the region and put tens of thousands of people at risk.
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