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EXME 13 / 31.01
Midday Express of 2013-01-31
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has today adopted a European Retail Action Plan and a Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain.
The mediation process on private copying and reprography levies has concluded with the presentation today of the Mediator’s Recommendations to Commissioner Barnier. António Vitorino, former European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, who was entrusted with this task by the Internal Market Commissioner, recommends two main streams of action. First, Mr Vitorino proposes to foster increased reliance on licences and contractual arrangements as the best way to ensure that right holders are properly remunerated for their creative efforts and investments. In addition, he recommends measures aimed at reconciling disparate national levy systems within the Single Market.
The European Commission has informed the pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson (J&J, of the USA) and Novartis (of Switzerland) of its objections regarding an agreement concluded between their respective Dutch subsidiaries on fentanyl, a strong pain-killer. The Commission takes the preliminary view that the agreement delayed the market entry of a cheaper generic medicine in the Netherlands, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.
The European Commission is set to examine barriers to cross-border trade in insurance products caused by different contract laws in the EU’s Member States, after today launching a call for experts to look into the problem. The expert group will identify to what extent contract law differences hinder cross-border distribution and use of insurance by European businesses and consumers. For example, a citizen moving to work in another EU country may be forced to take out a new car insurance policy, or face problems having their rights under a private pension plan recognised if taken out in another EU country. And businesses with branches in several EU countries may be forced to get separate policies under different conditions in each country instead of a single policy for all their property. The group will report at the end of 2013, after which the Commission will decide on any possible follow-up actions.
The European Commission today proposed an EU-wide ban on ‘4-MA’, a synthetic substance with similar physical effects to amphetamines. The Commission asked EU Member States to prevent the drug spreading freely across Europe by submitting it to control measures. 4-methylamphetamine – or 4-MA – is already illegal in 10 EU countries (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom). It has been associated with 21 deaths in four EU countries in 2010-2012 alone.
Innovative projects which will contribute to creating jobs for the future will tonight take centre stage as Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn presents the RegioStars 2013 Awards. With the President of the Jury, Luc Van den Brande, Commissioner Hahn will award prizes in five categories for projects from Portugal, the UK, Poland, Germany and Lithuania which demonstrate good practice in regional development. UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 20H00 CET
The EU aims to allow free circulation of all products throughout the EU - the Single Market concept - but complaints from producers and distributors to the European Commission show that blockages in the trade of industrial products still exist. In order to address this issue, the Commission is working to identify and eliminate any gaps in the Single Market legislation, in particular if there are any obstacles to the trade of new products and new technologies, such as key enabling technologies or 3-D printing. Today the Commission therefore launched a consultation process which asks business and interested parties to inform the Commission about regulatory issues they encounter while trading industrial products within the EU. This public consultation is open to a wide stakeholder audience and the deadline for submissions is 17 April 2013.
Long-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) can trigger atherosclerosis, adverse birth outcomes and childhood respiratory diseases, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) review released today. REVIHAAP – the “Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution” – also suggests a possible link with neurodevelopment, cognitive function and diabetes, and strengthens the causal link between PM2.5 and cardiovascular and respiratory deaths. The research was carried out at the request of the European Commission in the framework of the 2013 review of the European Union’s air policy.
The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe have announced the five finalists who will compete for the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award. In total, 335 works in the 37 European countries which participate in the EU Culture programme were nominated for the award. An expert jury drew up the final shortlist (details below). The overall winner of the Prize, as well as the 'special mention' award for best emerging architect, will be announced in May, with an award ceremony on 6 June at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain.
The European Commission has closed an antitrust investigation into two cooperation schemes of ship owners, European Minibulk eG and Container Feeder eG. These two maritime cooperatives established in Germany aimed to coordinate certain activities of the owners of minibulk and container feeder vessels, mainly in Northern Europe, for example the joint purchasing of inputs such as fuel. The Commission was concerned that a compensation system set up for owners laying-up their vessels (i.e. keeping them idle) would give them an incentive to withdraw capacity from the market. The Commission was also concerned that an information exchange scheme could have enabled the coordination of rates between competitors. Following discussions with the Commission the cooperatives agreed to abandon these two aspects of their cooperation before they had been implemented. As a result, competition on the market will be maintained. Consequently, the Commission has now been able to close the case without having to initiate formal proceedings.
Today, Eurostat publishes for the first time a News Release on the evolution of house prices. This new euro-indicator replies to the demand for comparable and reliable statistics on national, euro area and EU housing markets. House price evolution is important for economic and monetary policy purposes, in particular monitoring of macroeconomic imbalances and of risk exposure of the financial sector. It is also relevant for households, as it measures changes in the prices of the most important component of households' expenditure and wealth. House prices, as measured by the House Price Index (HPI), fell by 2.5% in the euro area and by 1.9% in the EU in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Compared with the second quarter of 2012, house prices fell by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU in the third quarter of 2012.
Concentrations: la Commission autorise la création d'une entreprise commune par la CDC et BULL
La Commission européenne a autorisé, en vertu du règlement de l’UE sur les concentrations, la création d'une entreprise commune qui aura pour objet la commercialisation de services dans le domaine du "cloud computing" (ou informatique en nuage). La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) est un établissement public français à statut légal spécial remplissant des missions d'intérêt général telles que la gestion des fonds privés auxquels les pouvoirs publics souhaitent apporter une protection particulière et l'investissement ou l'accord de prêts dans des activités au nom de l'intérêt général. BULL est un acteur international du secteur informatique qui commercialise différents produits d'infrastructure (serveurs informatiques, solutions de stockage, solutions de sécurité informatique, calcul haute performance) et de services informatiques. L'opération a été analysée sous la procédure simplifiée.
"We must not wait for a miracle", argues László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in today's speech at the conference "European labour markets in (the) crisis: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?" organised by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). "The labour market can be a source of recovery, if we invest in it." Andor highlights that structural reforms should focus on improving companies' resilience in times of crisis and enabling more people to contribute to the economy. He stresses that competitiveness depends largely on non-cost factors such as education, health, public sector functioning and innovation, and that boosting competitiveness requires investment in people. According to Andor, solidarity within Europe is needed to bring peripheral countries to sustainable growth and thus maintain unity. He outlines a seven-point jobs plan, comprising structural reforms such as the Youth Guarantee, lower taxation of low-paid labour, better restructuring and re-skilling, and broader ownership of capital. He also explains how Europe's unemployment is linked to the euro crisis and recall his recent suggestion for the design the social dimension of a genuine Economic and Monetary Union (see also SPEECH/13/62). "The reinforced architecture of the EMU must be able to address employment and social problems, including through a common fiscal capacity and through employment and social policy standards", he concludes. See SPEECH/13/88 from 17:00.
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