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EXME 13 / 15.01

Midday Express of 2013-01-15

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

New European Union assistance for the Palestinian people

The European Union has decided to bring forward the first part of its 2013 assistance package for the Palestinian people to the beginning of the year in order to ensure that the support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), who provide vital services to the Palestinian people, is not interrupted.

November 2012 - Euro area international trade in goods surplus of 13.7 bn euro - 1.7 bn euro deficit for EU27

The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in November 2012 gave a 13.7 bn euro surplus, compared with +4.9 bn in November 2011. The October 2012 balance was +9.3 bn, compared with -0.7 bn in October 2011. In November 2012 compared with October 2012, seasonally adjusted exports increased by 0.8% while imports fell by 1.5%. The first estimate for the November 2012 extra-EU27 trade in goods balance was a 1.7 bn euro deficit, compared with -9.3 bn in November 2011. The October 2012 balance was -9.8 bn, compared with -11.3 bn in October 2011. In November 2012 compared with October 2012, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 1.1% while imports decreased by 3.0%.

Commission launches public consultation on the future of organic production

The European Commission is launching today an online consultation aimed at all citizens interested in organic production in Europe. The consultation will feed the reflexion on a new framework regulation, as called for by the Commission in its report of May 2012 on the implementation of the current regulation. European organic production rules cover the whole production chain from farm to fork. Operators respecting these rules have the right to label their products "organic" and to put the European green leaf logo on the packaging. After having consulted and worked together with stakeholders in the organic sector to identify issues at stake for the future, the Commission is now turning to citizens. The consultation will cover possible simplifications to be brought to the existing scheme, while maintaining high standards, as well as the issues of control and international trade. Dacian Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Today, resource management and sustainable agricultural production are becoming more and more important politically, and consumers are looking closely at how their food is produced. This is therefore a good moment to underline our commitment to the highest standards for organic production and to review our organic rules where necessary in order to see how to create the best possible conditions to encourage the development of organic production in Europe. The open consultation is a great opportunity for European citizens to be involved in preparing the future of European organic agriculture." The consultation will run from 15 January to 10 April 2013 and the questionnaire can be accessed at http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=orgagric2013&lang=en . Once all the aspects have been addressed and examined closely, the European Commission will be in a position to elaborate proposals for a renewed political and legal framework for organic agriculture in Europe, to be proposed by the Commission around the end of 2013.

Commission clears the creation of a new JV active in the provision of merchant acquiring services

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Banco Santander, an international banking and financial group active in retail banking, asset management, corporate and investment banking, treasury and insurance, and Elavon Financial Services Limited,a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, active in, among others, the provision of merchant services in respect of card transactions to merchants, of joint control of a newly created joint venture active in the provision of merchant acquiring services, mainly in Spain. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

Commission clears acquisition of Steweag-Steg by Energie Steiermark AG

The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of sole control of Steweag-Steg GmbH by Energie Steiermark AG, both Austrian-based companies. Steweag-Steg was previously jointly controlled by Energie Steiermark AG and Verbund AG. Energie Steiermark AG is active in the generation and distribution of electricity in Austria as well as in the gas and heating sector. Steweag-Steg GmbH is active in the electricity trading and the distribution of electricity in Austria. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure.

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