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EXME 13 / 18.04
Midday Express of 2013-04-18
News from the European Commission's Midday Briefing
Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi de la Commission européenne
The European Commission has today launched a new European nuclear security training centre (EUSECTRA) in Karlsruhe. The training centre will instruct front-line officers, trainers and experts on how to detect and respond to illicit trafficking of nuclear or other radioactive materials. EUSECTRA offers hands-on training using a wide variety of radioactive and nuclear materials and a broad selection of equipment and measurement instruments. Indoors, one of the training areas simulates airport conditions, equipped with a pedestrian portal monitor and an x-ray conveyor. Outdoors, training is provided on a variety of scenarios, providing 4 different types of radiation portal monitors. Overall, more than 30 measurement and detection tools are used in training. The centre enhances the European Commission's Joint Research Centre's (JRC) training activities carried out in this field at the Karlsruhe and Ispra sites.
The European Commission has today presented an overview of how EU Structural Funds are working in Member States. The ‘Strategic Report’ on the implementation of 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy programmes pulls together available information from Member States, up to end-2011 in most cases. With 4 more years to go until the programmes finish in 2015, investments under the European Regional Development Fund, Cohesion Fund and European Social Fund have already led to progress and improvement for many citizens.
The European Commission has today published proposals to provide transitional arrangements in 2014 for certain Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules, notably the system of Direct Payments. Although the Commission is working intensively with the European Parliament and the Council to reach a political agreement on CAP reform – and remains optimistic that this can be concluded before the end of June – so that the new legal regulations can be in place from January 1, 2014, it is not realistic for Member States to have all the necessary administrative procedures in place by the start of next year. In order to ensure continuity, transitional rules are therefore required for some elements of policy, most obviously for the system of direct payments. This would mean that the existing rules of the Single Payment Scheme, the SAPS system and payments targeted under "Article 68"will continue in the 2014 claim year. New rules, for example those relating to Greening, would therefore not apply until the start of 2015, thereby allowing Paying Agencies more time to prepare for these changes.
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Philippe de Fontaine-Vive, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Andrew Winbow, Assistant Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), are meeting in Athens, Greece, on the occasion of the 12th Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Investment (FEMIP) Conference (18-19 April), to affirm their commitment to work collectively and in partnership to support a blue and sustainable economy in the Mediterranean region and to maximise marine and maritime cooperation across all bordering countries. Ministers responsible for maritime affairs in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Morocco and Palestine will be present.
Commissioner Piebalgs announces high level summit on education in developing countries
Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs is taking part this week (17-21 April) in the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring meetings in Washington DC. In order to push forward the role of education in the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda, the Commissioner will announce a High Level conference on Education and Development which he will host on May 23 in Brussels. The Conference will focus on challenges in countries most off-track in achieving international education goals and will count on distinguished speakers such as: European Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva (International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth), Gordon Brown (United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education), and Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands (UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development). Commissioner Piebalgs will make the announcement at today's Learning for All Ministerial Round Table, where participants will discuss how key solutions to accelerate progress in the countries where more children remain out of school, such as Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo or South Sudan. Since 2004, thanks to Commission support, more than 9 million children worldwide have been enrolled in primary education, more than 720,000 primary school teachers have been trained and more than 85,000 new female students have been enrolled in secondary education. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/what/education/index_en.htm
Kroes to digital natives: we need the EU so you have jobs to fight for instead of wars to fight in
Addressing schoolchildren gathering in Brussels to give their views on the future of Europe, Kroes said [ SPEECH/13/328 ] she wants "a union, economic and political, where you have a job to go to or the chance to create your own. Previous generations just had a war to fight in… People like me in the Commission have a lot of people advising us. From civil servants to businesses, governments and so on. But the advice I welcome the most is from young people. "Digital natives"; at home every day with new technology. You are the generation who can change things. In a world transformed by technology, you are the ones who can create and reform." - Under Embargo until 19:00 CET
Online counterfeits: 33 companies and trade associations join in fight against the online sale of counterfeit goods
The European Commission has today adopted a Report on the functioning of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the sale of counterfeit goods via the Internet. This MoU , which was concluded under the auspices of the Commission on 4 May 2011, brings together 33 companies and trade associations, covering 39 different internet sites including leading e-commerce platforms (such as eBay, Amazon, Allegro and Rakuten/PriceMinister) as well as major brands in the field of fast moving consumer goods, consumer electronics, fashion, luxury goods, sports goods, film, software, games and toys (such as Adidas, Nike, Lego, Mattel, LVMH, Burberry; Nokia, Unilever and Procter & Gamble), in a joint fight against the online sale of counterfeit goods. The Report – the first of its kind – provides a detailed assessment of best practices and practical measures that successfully prevent the sale of counterfeits online, thus protecting consumers looking for genuine products in the digital Internal Market. The Report also demonstrates that, in parallel with legislation, voluntary cooperation significantly contributes to curbing online counterfeiting and that it can, in certain circumstances, provide flexibility to adapt quickly to technological developments and deliver efficient solutions. The MoU contributes to enhanced trust in the on-line Internal Market and in so doing helps the EU's Digital Market to grow. Next Monday, the Report will be discussed at the Conference “Jointly Building Resilient EU Responses to Counterfeiting”, organised in Dublin by the Commission and the EU Observatory on the Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights. Read the Report and see the Conference Programme: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/iprenforcement/stakeholders/index_en.htm#maincontentSec2
Commissioner Andor: Harnessing everyone's skills and talents as a way out of the crisis
"The fact is that the European Union cannot come out of the crisis successfully unless we improve the use we make of our labour force's potential. This requires policy action." said László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the Job Expo Fair Conference, in Nitra, Slovakia, on 18 April 2013. "First, we need to develop more inclusive markets. In our recent work, we particularly focussed on young people", said Andor, recalling the Youth Guarantee agreed among the Member States last February (see MEMO/13/152). "Second, we need to bring education and training more in line with the skills needed on the labour market", continued Andor. "My third message concerns the need to better match labour demand and labour supply by stronger mobility", he added. Recognising that mobilising public resources to meet these challenges in the present times of austerity is particularly difficult, Andor concluded "It is worth doing even if it means setting priorities. One example is the Youth Guarantee. Introducing it will have a cost. But this cost is not comparable to the cost of inaction. I also want to stress that Member States will not be alone in this. The EU budget will be there to help". See SPEECH/13/355
Food safety: Commission reviews measures on imports from Japan
A Commission measure to revise rules on imports of food and feed originating from Japan following the Fukushima nuclear accident was today endorsed by experts meeting in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH). At the last major review of the measures in October 2012, the second growing season after the nuclear accident was still underway and so for several crops, including rice, not all data was available. Therefore, it was foreseen to carry out an intermediate review in March 2013.
Under the measure, existing restrictions for food and feed imports coming from the prefecture Fukushima are maintained whereas control measures have been slightly modified for the other 9 prefectures located in the restricted zone (Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Iwate, Chiba and Kanagawa). For these prefectures the main changes are the delisting of products for which pre-testing is required before export to the EU including pears, pome fruit and scallops as well as adding to the list buckwheat, lotus root and beef The pre-testing of mushrooms from Nagano, Aomori and Niigata is now also required. Based on the 2013 growing season monitoring results, it is foreseen to carry out the next review of these measures shortly before 31 March 2014. EU's imports of feed and food from Japan amount to a total of approximately €216 million, which represents around 0.4% in value and less than 0.1% in volume of all its food/feed imports. For the Japanese economy, food and feed export to the EU represents only 0.3% of all exports from Japan to the EU.
The measures will be published in the second half of May 2013 following the adoption of the proposal by the Commission and are foreseen to enter into force on 1 June 2013.
Animal Welfare: Commission harmonises reporting on the live transportation of animals in Europe
A Decision to harmonise information to be submitted annually by Member States on inspections carried out to ensure compliance with EU legislation on animal welfare during transport was today adopted by the Commission. Information on where the inspections were carried out; the problems detected; and the actions taken by the Member States to correct the problems identified will need be included in the information that Member States provide the Commission. Today's Decision follows a recent Commission report , on the same subject, which concluded that receiving this information in a uniform way will provide a clearer overview of the situation in the EU and will provide a better basis to analyse and plan specific corrective measures at EU level. This new EU reporting scheme will also contribute to improve the enforcement of animal welfare legislation that is a matter of priority as highlighted in the EU animal welfare strategy 2012-2015 . It also forms part of a series of initiatives promoted by the Commission to ensure the proper enforcement of EU legislation to protect the welfare of the animals during transport. An international conference dedicated to the same topic is being organised together with the Irish Presidency and with the support of the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV). The Conference will be held on 29 May in Dublin. For more information on the conference and registration: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/information_sources/ahw_events_en.htm
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition by Mitsui Group and Gestamp Automoción of Target Companies
The European Commission has granted clearance under the EU Merger Regulation to the acquisition of joint control by Mitsui & Co. Ltd of Japan and Gestamp Automoción S.A. of Spain), over the North and South American subsidiaries of Gestamp Automoción (the “Target Companies”, USA, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil). Mitsui is a Japanese conglomerate active in the trading of a number of commodities, including iron and steel; non-ferrous metals; machinery; electronics; chemicals; motor vehicles and motorcycles, and motor vehicle and motorcycle parts and accessories. Gestamp operates in the steel, renewable energy and, through its division Gestamp Automoción, automotive sector. The Target Companies are active in the production of automotive flat steel components in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the USA. 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.6879 .
The Commission welcomes today's decision by the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the 2011 EU budget. Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: "The decision by the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Commission is recognition of our consistent effort over the years to improve the management and control of EU funds. I agree with the Council and Parliament when they call for further simplification of the rules and processes in order to reduce the risk of errors. I agree with them when they call on Member States to take up their full responsibilities, given that they are first in line in managing and controlling about 80% of the whole budget."
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