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EXME 13 / 22.03

Midday Express of 2013-03-22

News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne

Employment: European Globalisation Fund pays €24.2 million to help redundant workers in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Romania, Spain and Sweden

The European Commission has just made payments to Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Romania, Spain and Sweden from the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF). The total amount of €24.2 million will help 5,271 workers in those countries back into employment, following their dismissals in a wide variety of sectors including automotive, motorcycles, mobile phones, metal products, electronic equipment and social work activities.

Digital Agenda: Commission opens consultations on media freedom and pluralism and audiovisual media regulator independence

The European Commission launches today two public consultations, open until 7th June 2013. The consultations formalise a debate started by recommendations made in January 2013 by an independent High Level Group (HLG) on Media Freedom and Pluralism convened by the Commission.

Combating firearms trafficking: Commission proposes ratification of UN protocol and further action

The EU is ready to ratify the UN firearms protocol following the adoption of new rules on sale, possession and transfers of firearms both within and outside Europe. Today, the European Commission presents a proposal to that end, while stressing the need for further action. The purpose of the UN firearms protocol is to strengthen cooperation against illicit manufacturing and trafficking of small arms, such as handguns and pistols. This trade generates around €180 million per year for organised crime around the globe.

The number of asylum applicants registered in the EU27 rose to more than 330 000 in 2012

In 2012, there were 332 000 asylum applicants registered in the EU27. It is estimated that around 90% of these were new applicants and around 10% were repeat applicants. In 2011, there were 302 000 asylum applicants. While Afghanistan (8% of the total number of applicants) remained in 2012 the first main country of citizenship3 of these applicants, Syria (7%) became the second just ahead of Russia (7%), Pakistan (6%) and Serbia (6%).These data on asylum applicants in the EU27 are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Commission approves prolongation of Hungarian Liquidity scheme for banks until 30 June 2013

The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of a Hungarian aid scheme for banks until 30 June 2013. The scheme covers liquidity measures in favour of banks operating in Hungary. All conditions of the original scheme, as last prolonged on 30 July 2012 (see EXME/12/30.07), remain unchanged. The Commission found the prolongation of the measures, initially approved on 14 January 2010 (see IP/10/19) and prolonged on 28 June 2010, 7 December 2010, 23 June 2011, 7 March 2012 and 30 July 2012 (see IP/10/854 , EXME/10/12.07 , EXME/11/23.06 , EXME/12/07.03 and EXME/12/30.07) to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/09/322 , IP/10/1636 and IP/11/1488). In particular, the prolonged measures are well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the Hungarian economy and as such are compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Over the counter (OTC) derivatives transactions: Commission adopts report on the international treatment of central banks and debt management offices

The European Commission has today adopted a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the international treatment of central banks and public entities managing public debt with regard to OTC derivatives transactions. It provides a comparative analysis of the treatment of central banks and debt management offices within the legal frameworks of a significant number of non-EU countries. This report is a first step towards exempting certain non-EU countries’ central banks and public debt management offices from the scope of Regulation 648/2012 on OTC derivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories (EMIR). It will be updated regularly as the reform process advances in the countries where the legislation is not yet final, as well as in other G20 jurisdictions not yet included in the report. Additional information: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/financial-markets/derivatives/index_en.htm

Commission proposes to conclude the revised World Trade Organisation's Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)

The European Commission has today proposed to the Council the formal conclusion of the Protocol amending the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), the only legally binding agreement in the WTO on the subject of government procurement. In total, 15 parties are currently part of the agreement (Armenia, Canada, the EU with respect to its 27 Member States, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands with respect to Aruba, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, and the United States). The European Parliament will also be called upon to give its consent to the conclusion of the Protocol. The revised GPA will enter into force when two-thirds of the Parties will have ratified the agreement. According to WTO estimates, the revision of the GPA will bring extra procurement opportunities worth around 80 billion euro. Moreover, the revised GPA should facilitate and attract new members to join. For more information on the GPA agreement, see IP/11/1556 .

Protecting products with a geographical indication: Commission publishes study on whether to extend the system to products other than food

The Commission has today published a study on protection via geographical indications for non-agricultural products in the internal market. While a system using geographical indications to protect many kinds of food products has been in place for a long time, there is currently no EU-wide system of protection via geographical indications for non-agricultural products – products that have a particular geographic origin and tradition, such as typical regional handicrafts. The study published today will feed into the Commission's on-going analysis of whether action at EU level is required in this area. It evaluates the existing legal framework for protection by geographical indication for non-agricultural products in the different EU Member States and the economic consequences of its fragmentation, as well as putting forward possible solutions. The results of the study are going to be presented and discussed at a public hearing organised by the Commission on 22 April 2013.Link to the study: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/indprop/geo-indications/index_en.htm

Commission publishes annual report on direct aids to farmers in 2011

The Commission is publishing today its annual report on the global distribution of direct payments by Member State, with final data for 2011. It shows that direct payments are still not equally distributed among beneficiaries in Member States: on average, 80% of beneficiaries receive around 20% of payments (however with important differences between Member States). This figure has been a feature of CAP support for many years, which the Commission is seeking to address in its reform concept. The Commission's 2011 CAP reform proposals aim at a fairer distribution of direct payments between Member States and between farmers, through the concepts of external and internal convergence, but also through proposals for a degressivity of payments from € 150 000 onwards and capping at € 300 000, all strongly supported by European citizens. Direct payments in 2011 amounted to €40.2 billion, approximately 72% of the support provided to farmers by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This represents a 1.3 % increase as compared to 2010, due to the continued phasing-in of direct payments in new Member States. The report also confirms that 92% of these payments are now "decoupled", which means that they are not linked to what and how much individual farmers produce. This reflects the evolution of farm support over time, from mainly price support measures in the 1970s and 1980s to the proposed combination of direct income support and a payment for sustainable farming practices. The full report, including detailed analyses of direct payments and farm structure per country and groups of countries, can be accessed at http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/cap-funding/beneficiaries/direct-aid/index_en.htm

Autre matériel diffusé :

Memo "Questions and Answers: the UN firearms protocol and the EU"

Memo "Statement by EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier on the eve of World Water Day 2013" – rediffusion

Memo "CRD IV/CRR – Frequently Asked Questions" – rediffusion

Memo "Joint Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Štefan Füle on Abdullah Öcalan's call on the PKK to lay down arms and withdraw beyond Turkey's borders" – rediffusion

Speech by Vice-President N. Kroes: "Safeguarding media freedom and pluralism"

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