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EXME 13 / 15.04
Midday Express of 2013-04-15
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
23.632 people were identified or presumed victims of trafficking in the EU over the 2008-2010 period. This is the most striking figure emerging from the first report on trafficking in human beings in Europe, published today by the European Commission. The report also highlights that the number of people being trafficked in and to the EU increased by 18% from 2008 to 2010, but less traffickers end up behind bars, since convictions decreased by 13% over the same period. Despite this worrying background, to date, only 5 out of the 27 EU Member States have fully transposed the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into their national legislation and three countries have only reported partial transposition of the directive, with the deadline having expired on 6 April 2013.
The European Commission proposed today new rules to allow manufacturers to develop more aerodynamic lorries which will reduce fuel consumption by 7-10%, cut emissions of greenhouse gases, and also enhance the safety of vulnerable road users.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc., registered in the US, by the US-based company Liberty Global, Inc. The transaction, with a value of €17.2 billion, would bring together the second largest Pay TV operator in the UK (Virgin Media) and the largest cable operator in Europe (Liberty Global). The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different Member States and because of the merged entity's limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland.
The first estimate for the euro area (EA17) trade in goods balance with the rest of the world in February 2013 gave a 10.4 billion euro surplus, compared with +1.3 bn in February 2012. The January 2013 balance was -4.7 bn, compared with -9.2 bn in January 2012. In February 2013 compared with January 2013, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 0.1% while imports fell by 2.1%. The first estimate for the February 2013 extra-EU271 trade balance was a 1.8 bn euro surplus, compared with -13.1 bn in February 2012. In January 20132 the balance was -16.8 bn, compared with -25.0 bn in January 2012. In February 2013 compared with January 2013, seasonally adjusted exports fell by 0.1% and imports by 2.3%.
In 2011, EU27 residents made 1.0 billion holiday trips, of which around one quarter were trips outside the country of residence (outbound trips). Looking in more detail at these outbound holiday trips, Spain was the top foreign destination of EU27 residents in 2011 (13% of all outbound trips), followed by Italy and France (both 9%). It should be noted that these figures refer to trips made by EU residents. They do not include trips made by non EU residents to the EU.
Member States’ contributions to 2013 EU budget to be reduced
Total revenues for the 2012 budget amounted to €139.44 billion while total expenditure was €138.42 billion. The €1.02 billion difference will therefore diminish the contribution of Member States to the 2013 budget. It essentially stems from higher than expected revenue and exchange rate differences. The draft amending budget will have to be approved by the Council and the European Parliament. Each year the difference between the revenue and expenditure from the previous year is the subject of a specific amending budget that must be presented by the Commission within 15 days following the submission of the accounts, which took place at the end of March.
International conference to drive search for rare diseases therapies
The first conference of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC) will take place in Dublin on 16-17 April. The Consortium initiative was launched in 2011 by the Commission and international partners, with the objective of delivering 200 new therapies for rare diseases and means to diagnose most rare diseases by the year 2020 and involves over 30 partners from 4 continents. A disease or disorder is defined as rare in Europe when it affects not more than 1 in every 2 000 persons. Yet, there are very many different rare diseases – between 6 000 and 8 000 - and up to 30 million people suffer from them in the EU many of whom are children. The conference will bring together stakeholders from across the globe active in the rare disease area. Up to 500 participants are expected including scientists from rare disease projects funded by all IRDiRC members, representatives from the 30 members as well as from other funding bodies, the three IRDiRC Scientific Committees, patient representatives and industry from Europe, North America, Australia and beyond. In February, the Commission announced €144 million of new funding for 26 research projects on rare diseases, bringing the number of EU-funded collaborative research projects related to rare diseases to close to 100 over the last six years. Altogether, they represent an investment of almost 500 million euro. International Rare Diseases Research Consortium: http://www.irdirc.org - http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/medical-research/rare-diseases/irdirc_en.html - Rare diseases - How Europe is meeting the challenges: http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/pdf/rare-diseases-how-europe-meeting-challenges_en.pdf
Commissioner Andor: Social dialogue vital component of European social model, not a luxury
"Social dialogue is vital – not because the two sides of industry can necessarily agree on everything, but because we are living in a time of growing social conflict" said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, at the Conference on Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue in Europe taking place in Budapest on 15 April 2013. Recalling the Report on Industrial Relations in Europe published on 11 April, Commissioner Andor continued "In countries where social dialogue is well established and industrial relations institutions are strong, the economic and social situation tends to be more favourable and subjects to less strain. Countries with strong social dialogue are also the most competitive ones in Europe". Commissioner Andor concluded "The economic crisis has been a stress-test for EMU. The euro may lose support among EU citizens if it is perceived as a purely economic and budgetary project that does not take account of the challenges facing the European social model and the welfare state. That is why I am convinced the social partners must be involved in the design of reform to improve the EU's economic competitiveness. Strong industrial relations allow the views of all parties to be taken into account. That can lead to a balanced policy mix that furthers social justice and competitiveness too". See SPEECH/13/317 - See also the report Industrial Relations in Europe 2012
Commissioner Piebalgs participates in a discussion to tackle global hunger, nutrition and climate change in Dublin
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs has delivered today the opening speech at the High Level Event on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice. The conference is being organised by the Irish Government in partnership with the World Food Programme and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The objective is to facilitate a respectful dialogue and learn from practical experience and robust evidence to inform a new approach to addressing hunger, nutrition and climate justice, in the context of the new international development agenda. The meeting will push forward a policy document on Nutrition being prepared by the Commission and expected to be adopted later this year, as it shows that food security remains one of the policy priorities of Member States and organisations. For more information: http://www.arc2020.eu/front/2013/04/hunger-nutrition-and-climate-justice-on-the-agenda/
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today, President Barroso, while noting Prime Minister Orbán's reassurances on Hungary's and the Hungarian government's willingness and commitment to fully respect European Union values and law, confirms that, based on a first legal analysis, the Commission has serious concerns over the compatibility of the Fourth Amendment to the Hungarian Fundamental Law with EU legislation and with the principle of the rule of law.
The European Commission has authorised under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition by the leading Dutch dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina of two Dutch companies: Zijerveld & Veldhuyzen B.V., a specialised cheese wholesaler, and Den Hollander Food B.V., a packaging services provider (together "the target"). The clearance is conditional upon the implementation of a package of commitments offered by FrieslandCampina. The Commission had concerns that the transaction, as originally notified, would have significantly reduced competition on the market for the production and sale of semi-hard goat cheese in the Netherlands. The commitments address these concerns as they will ensure that sufficient quantities of semi-hard goat cheese are available to third parties.
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