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EXME 13 / 21.03
Midday Express of 2013-03-21
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
European Commission meets the Russian Government for executive-to-executive talks
The European Commission meets the Russian Government in Moscow today and tomorrow. These executive-to-executive talks will cover a wide range of EU-Russia cooperation, from discussions on the EU-Russia New Agreement to trade issues, energy cooperation, transport and mobility. President Barroso will be accompanied by Vice-Presidents Kallas, Tajani; Commissioners Barnier, Vassiliou, De Gucht, Lewandoski, Damanaki, Georgieva, Oettinger, Hahn, Füle, Mallmström, Cioloş, Borg. See also IP/13/244 .
On 25 March in Tokyo, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, will meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe for the twenty first summit between the European Union and Japan.
In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission is pursuing legal action against Member States for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. These decisions covering many sectors aim at ensuring proper application of EU law for the benefit of citizens and businesses. The Commission has taken today 101 decisions, including 3 reasoned opinions and 9 referrals to the European Union's Court of Justice, out of which 4 include financial penalties. A summary of the main decisions can be found in the MEMO/13/261 . On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12 .
Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy said today: "This is really a breakthrough and will give a big push to much needed infrastructure: Rather than waiting up to 12 years or longer for a permit, developers of crucial cross-border infrastructure - such as pipelines or power grids - will have a decision in about 4 years. This will save them time and money – and will help us creating a true European market where energy systems are physically connected with each other. Consumers and companies will profit because competition keeps costs down.''
Most people think of Silicon Valley in the United States when they think about technology and entrepreneurs – the European Commission wants young Europeans to be inspired by home-grown entrepreneurs, so their bright ideas start and stay in Europe. With help from the creators of Spotify, Angry Birds, Tuenti, Skype, SeedCamp, HackFwd, London's Tech City and TheNextWeb, the Commission is creating a platform for star entrepreneurs to tell their stories of inspirations and frustration, to wake-up young Europeans and leaders to the potential of entrepreneurial careers.
Investment in education fell in eight out of 25 Member States assessed as part of a European Commission study on the impact of the crisis on education budgets since 2010. Cuts of more than 5% were imposed in Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Portugal, while Estonia, Poland, Spain and the UK (Scotland) saw decreases of 1 to 5%. However, five Member States increased education spending by more than 1%: Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden, as well as the German speaking area of Belgium. Germany and the Netherlands did not provide data for the period since 2010.
The European Commission has presented a proposal for a Council Decision authorising Member States to ratify the International Labour Organisation 2011 Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers (Convention No. 189). Countries ratifying the ILO Convention agree to ensure fair and decent conditions for domestic workers by protecting their fundamental labour related rights, preventing abuse and violence and establishing safeguards for young domestic workers.
As the debate about the future of Europe and the consequences of the economic crisis is gathering pace, the European Commission is reaching out to different European towns to listen to citizens, their concerns and hopes for the future. On 22 March 2013, Vice-President Viviane Reding will be in Thessaloniki (Greece) to hold a debate with over 500 citizens.
In March 2013, the DG ECFIN flash estimate of the consumer confidence indicator remained unchanged in the EU (at -21.6) and broadly unchanged in the euro area (-23.5 after -23.6 in February 2013).
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, today announced new EU funding which amounts to €10 million to boost access to sustainable energy in the Pacific Islands. Speaking ahead of the Pacific Energy Summit, due to take place in Auckland, New Zealand, on 24 - 25 March, the Commissioner underlined that the funding would provide access to affordable and safe energy to the poorest living in some of the most remote areas of the Pacific, helping to significantly increase trade and growth opportunities in the region.
In 2010, GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, in the EU27's 270 regions ranged from 26% of the EU27 average in the region of Severozapaden in Bulgaria, to 328% of the average in Inner London in the United Kingdom. More than one region in seven has GDP per capita above 125% of the average. The leading regions in the ranking of regional GDP per capita in 2010 were Inner London in the United Kingdom (328% of the average), the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (266%), Brussels in Belgium (223%), Hamburg in Germany (203%), Île de France in France and Groningen in the Netherlands (both 180%), Bratislava in Slovakia (176%), Praha in the Czech Republic (172%), Stockholm in Sweden (168%) and Wien in Austria (165%). This information is taken from data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.
Commission further streamlines list of authorised additives in animal feed
More than 1200 authorisations for flavourings in farm animal feed and pet food are to be withdrawn following a Regulation adopted last week. This legal act, published in the Official Journal today, is part of the European Commission's effort to streamline the list of authorised additives used in feed - including flavouring substances, into a smaller state-of-the-art list of re-assessed products shown to be safe and effective. This measure brings more transparency and certainty to operators and authorities alike. The Commission is undertaking a re-evaluation of all additives used in animal feed. Additives for which no applications for reauthorisation were submitted, such as the ones in this Regulation, are being withdrawn. This does not prevent interested parties from submitting new applications for their products in the future. All applications must be accompanied by the data required to prove their safety for consumers, for the animals, for workers and for the environment. The data is assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). For more information on the re-evaluation process for animal feed additives, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/animalnutrition/feedadditives/index_en.htm
EDA Conference – future prospects for the EU's defence industry
Today the European Defence Agency holds the “European Defence Matters” conference, discussing concrete steps for the future of the EU’s defence industry. The conference will be one of many debates held throughout 2013 on the future of the Common Security and Defence Policy, the EU’s military capabilities as well as the industrial base that supports the EU’s defence industry – in preparation for the European Council in December 2013 which will have a focus on defence. Responding to the financial and political downturn brought about by the economic crisis, the Commission has committed itself to do all it can, within its competences, to develop the internal market and industrial base in defence. This summer the Commission will also issue a Communication on ways the EU can support Member States in strengthening the competitiveness of Europe's defence industry, reinforcing the internal market and the industrial and technological base - promoting competition. As part of the strategy outlined in the Communication, there will also be proposals for fostering innovation, growth and jobs through the promotion of civilian / military synergies and measures to support defence-related SMEs. European Defence Matters
László Andor: we need to strengthen the social dimension of the EMU
"The current crisis is undermining social cohesion in many Member States, but it is also calling the European social model into question ", said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion on 21 March 2013 at the Conference of German Länder EU Affairs Ministers hosted by the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Stressing the need to strengthen the social dimension of economic and monetary union, he added: "It is no coincidence that the Member States performing best in terms of financial sustainability, economic growth and employment all have strong, institutionalised forms of social dialogue". Andor also recalled the Social Investment Package adopted by the Commission on 20 February 2013, which provides guidance on modernising Europe's welfare systems: "Member States should also look at the overall efficiency and effectiveness of their spending, identifying the policies that yield the highest returns and where possible, simplifying benefits administration. This will help the Member States to come out of the economic crisis stronger, more cohesive and more competitive in the long term". See SPEECH/13/251
Mergers: Commission clears joint acquisition of Isuzu Motors India by Mitsubishi and Isuzu
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of Isuzu Motors India Private Ltd by Mitsubishi Corporation and Isuzu Motors Ltd. Isuzu India will be active in in the manufacture and supply of motor vehicles and related spare parts, mainly in India. Mitsubishi Corporation is active in the supply of energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, food and general merchandise. Isuzu Motors Ltd. is active in the manufacture and supply of motor vehicles as well as engine components. Both acquiring companies are based in Japan. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6859 .
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition by Prestige Motor Holdings of Aston Martin
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition by Prestige Motor Holdings (Luxembourg, controlled by Investindustrial V LP, United Kingdom, which in turn is controlled by BI-Invest Holdings of Luxembourg) of Aston Martin Holdings (United Kingdom). Aston Martin is active in the manufacture and distribution of luxury performance motor cars. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.6829.
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Dekra-Expert by Dekra and Uniqa
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control of Hungary's Dekra-Expert by Dekra of Germany and Uniqa of Austria. Dekra-Expert is an undertaking active in the provision of damage expert services (vehicle damage assessment and other technical damage evaluation) mainly in Hungary. The operation was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.6643 .
Today, the European Commission presented two new Communications on the next steps towards a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The aim is to strengthen economic policy coordination and integration in the euro area. These Communications follow commitments made in the Commission's Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union last November, and respond to calls from the European Council to take work forward on these two fronts.
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