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EXME 13 / 19.02
Midday Express of 2013-02-19
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
Despite the challenging times, Member States have performed better than ever in transposing EU rules into national law on time according to the European Commission's Internal Market Scoreboard published today. The Single Market has a key role to play in bringing Europe out of economic stagnation. But it does not deliver benefits automatically: timely transposition of legislation is a necessary condition for achieving the policy objectives set out in the directives.
The European Commission is taking new action to help Member States recover national treasures which have been unlawfully removed from their territory. European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani proposed today to strengthen the possibility for restitution available to Member States, since the current legislation is not proving sufficiently effective in achieving the recovery of unlawfully removed national treasures. The changes would ensure that more cultural goods will be recovered, the deadline for restitution claims will be extended, any possessor of an object requiring compensation for returning the object would be required to prove it was not knowingly acquired illegally, and information sharing between national authorities on the movement of culturally significant objects will be improved. The loss of cultural objects, classified as "national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value" is a particularly severe form of illicit trafficking of cultural property. It deprives citizens of their history and identity and endangers the preservation of Member States' cultural heritage.
20 years after the birth of EU citizenship Europeans are broadly aware of their rights, but do not always know what these entail, according to a new Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission today. 81% of respondents to the survey know that they are EU citizens on top of their own nationality (see Annex). However, only 36% feel well informed about the rights that EU citizenship entails. Europeans are most familiar with their rights to free movement (88%) and to petition EU institutions (89%). Meanwhile two-thirds (67%) consider that free movement of people within the EU brings economic benefits to their country. The survey comes as the European Parliament and the European Commission hold a joint hearing today to discuss Europeans’ rights. The discussions will notably provide inspiration for the Commission's next EU Citizenship Report, which aims to tackle obstacles encountered by EU citizens when exercising their rights. The report – due on 8 May – will set out a series of initiatives to help make these rights a reality, as part of the 2013 European Year of Citizens. It also follows up on the 25 actions announced in the First EU Citizenship Report in 2010 (see IP/10/1390 and MEMO/10/525) and looks at which obstacles for EU citizens have been dismantled over the past three years.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) received the first tranche (payment) worth €50 million from the Macro-Financial Assistance provided by the European Union.
The European Commission is increasing its humanitarian aid funding to Mali by €22 million to assist more victims of the conflict. This brings to €115 million its emergency assistance since the start of the crisis in 2012.
The European Commission will not prolong or renew a set of specific guidelines on the application of EU antitrust rules (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU) to maritime transport services. The current maritime guidelines will therefore expire on 26 September 2013.
In the construction sector, seasonally adjusted production fell by 1.7% in the euro area (EA17) and by 2.7% in the EU272 in December 2012, compared with the previous month. In November 2012, production decreased by 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. Compared with December 2011, production in December 2012 dropped by 4.8% in the euro area and by 8.5% in the EU27. Compared with 2011, the average production index for 2012 decreased by 5.4% in the euro area and by 5.8% in the EU27.
Horse meat: Commission adopts control plan to detect fraud in the marketing of foods
Today, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation for an EU coordinated plan on controls to investigate fraudulent practices and to enhance consumer confidence following the recent mislabelling of beef products containing horse meat. The EU will grant financial support to Member States which carry out this plan at a rate of 75%. The controls are to start immediately, running for one month and may be extended for a further two months. The plan includes two actions: 1) Establishment of the presence of unlabelled horse meat in food: Over the last days, official controls in some Member States revealed fraud in the marketing of foods. Certain foods contained horse meat that was not declared in the list of ingredients and their description referred solely to the presence of beef. The plan, foresees controls, mainly at retail level, of foods destined for the final consumer and marketed as containing beef, to detect the presence of unlabelled horse meat (indicative total number of 2250 samples across the EU ranging from 10 to 150 per Member State). Under current EU rules, it is considered misleading and in breach of legislation to suggest the presence of beef meat where, in fact, other types of meat are also present. In the same way, labelling of food containing horse meat is not in line with EU food labelling legislation, if the presence of horse meat is not listed in the ingredients. 2) Detection of possible residues of phenylbutazone in horse meat: the plan foresees the testing of 1 sample for every 50 tonnes of horse meat. A Member State will carry out a minimum of 5 tests. Phenylbutazone is a veterinary medicinal product whose use in food producing animals, including horses, is illegal. The plan provides for regular reporting of the results of the controls to the Commission, such as information on sampling, type of analysis and follow-up controls. For positive findings of residues in phenylbutazone in horse meat, information on the country where the animals concerned were certified for slaughter will also be included in the report. Member States have to submit their first report on 15 April 2013. If the testing proves positive however, Member States must report the findings immediately. All this information will be included in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) so that they can be immediately used by Member States' authorities.
Feed safety improved thanks to better information
The safety of feed in the EU receives a boost thanks to better information, in the form of an updated feed materials catalogue, introduced by a new Regulation, (EU) No 68/2013 that entered into force today. The catalogue provides agreed-upon descriptions of the various feed materials that appear on the labels of feed for farmed animals and pets. Thus farmers and pet owners are better informed on what the feed they buy really contains. Based on cooperation by all interested parties in the feed sector and endorsed by EU Member States, the Regulation will result in clearer business-to-business communication, improved feed safety and better information for consumers. The new Catalogue, for the first time, sets limits for residues of processing aids in by-products for feed use, for example from the food industry. In addition, the safe introduction of former foodstuff into the feed chain is clarified. This marks significant progress with respect to the sustainability of the whole food chain. Feed materials are the agricultural commodities most frequently imported into the EU. There is a major trend towards sustainability by using more by-products from the food production and from bio-based industries as animal feed. Since its first significant expansion two years ago, the EU catalogue of feed materials became a model for the feed industry worldwide with crucial trade partners like China adopting a similar approach. Previously endorsed by experts in the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health, the updated catalogue is to be applied by the industry from 19 August 2013 onwards. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/animalnutrition/labelling/index_en.htm
72,000 EU consumers helped by European Consumer Centres in 2012 – Annual Report
Today at the European Parliament, in the context of an event hosted by Mr Malcolm Harbour, Chairman of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, will present the results of the 2012 Annual Report of the European Consumer Centres (ECCs). The Report shows that each year more and more consumers benefit from the information and assistance services provided by the ECCs, which are co-financed by the European Commission and by the national authorities in all EU countries, Norway and Iceland. In 2012 the ECCs across the European Union handled more than 72,000 enquiries and complaints from consumers about purchasing across borders in an EU country, Norway or Iceland. From the 32 000 actual complaint cases, around 60% concerned e-commerce, which demonstrates the increasing tendency to shop online. About one third related to the transport sector, and 22% of them to air transport. Compared to previous years, a problematic area in 2012 proved to be the purchase of non-pharmaceutical medical products, therapeutic appliances and equipment. This reflects a growing tendency to sell such products online often with misleading or unfounded health claims, with slimming pills being a prime example. In 2012 more than half of the complaints requiring an intervention by the ECC towards the trader, were resolved on amicable terms or passed on to other organisations: 45% of the complaints were successfully closed after the ECCs reached an amicable settlement with the trader and 13% were passed on to other organisations (e.g. Alternative Dispute Resolution entities, enforcement authorities or courts). For simpler complaints the ECCs provided advice to consumers on how to claim their rights on their own. The Annual Report also gives an overview of the activities of the ECC-Network in 2012 and highlights some of its success stories. The ECC Network is a European network providing European citizens with free advice and help on consumer cross-border problems, for example when travelling or using e-commerce. The ECC-Net covers 29 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland). For more information including the full ECC-Net Annual Report 2012: http://ec.europa.eu/ecc-net
Commissioner Piebalgs to discuss how to address inequalities beyond 2015
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, participates today in Denmark in a high-level meeting on "Addressing inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda". During the event the results of an online global consultation launched in October 2012 by UN WOMEN and UNICEF, with support from the Governments of Denmark, will be presented. Commissioner Piebalgs will stress that the international community should aim at providing people with equality of opportunities so they are able to lift themselves out of poverty. Therefore, addressing this issue should be a priority of the next development framework beyond 2015.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of I.R.I.S. of Belgium by Canon Inc. of Japan. The review of this transaction was referred to the Commission by the Belgian competition authority and subsequently joined by the national competition authorities of Austria, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. The Commission's investigation found that the merged entity would continue to face competition from a number of other strong competitors in the relevant office automation equipment and capture software markets.
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